Traversing nerve roots — an overview

Traversing nerve roots are a specific type of nerve root that exists at each level of the spine. Often, nerve roots are referred to as paired structures that originate between each vertebra and extend into the body, allowing the flow of information between the central nervous system and the various nerve endings. However, while two nerves do exist at each disc level, only one actually exits the spine (the exiting nerve root), while the other – the traversing nerve – crosses the disc and exits through a canal below at the next level of the spine.

To put it another way, two nerve roots exist between the first and second cervical vertebrae (C1-C2); however, only the exiting nerve root emerges from the spine between C1-C2 to transmit information. The traversing nerve crosses over the disc that separates these vertebrae and becomes the exiting nerve root at the level below between the C2 and C3 vertebrae. From there, the process repeats until only one exiting nerve root exists at the coccyx in the tail bone.

Symptoms of traversing nerve root compression

However, the proximity of a traversing nerve root to a spinal disc also increases the risk of nerve compression in the event that the discs become displaced. Some common symptoms associated with disc degeneration and the compression of traversing nerve roots include:

  • Chronic neck or back pain
  • Pain that radiates or travels along a nerve
  • Muscle weakness
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes
  • Sciatica

Treatment for spine conditions

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor for diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan. In a large number of cases, these symptoms are relatively minor and can be managed with nonsurgical treatment. In the event that your pain persists and you are being recommended for surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient spine procedures.

The board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute use muscle-sparing techniques to relieve pressure on spinal nerve roots with less risk of complication when compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.

Call today for more information and to request a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.