Causes of neuralgia

Neuralgia is a medical term used to describe pain or symptoms caused by an injury or condition of the nervous system.

Because the nervous system can be affected by so many conditions and illnesses, including spine conditions, sometimes diagnosing the exact cause of the pain and symptoms can be difficult. Symptoms can occur in any portion of the body from head to toe; and the severity of the symptoms can vary from case to case. In terms of the spine, neuralgia is pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness produced by compression or irritation of the spinal cord or nearby nerve roots.

Specific issues that can cause neuralgia

The nervous system is vulnerable to several conditions that can cause pain to travel the nerve pathways throughout the nervous system. Neuralgia can be caused by:

  • Side effects of certain drugs
  • Chemical irritation
  • Diabetes
  • Infections, including shingles
  • Traumatic injury
  • Inflammation
  • Tumors that irritate nearby nerves

Spine conditions that develop as part of the aging process can often be the underlying cause of neuralgia. Degenerative spine conditions that may cause spinal neuralgia include:

  • Herniated disc — gel-like nucleus material seeps out of a disc through a tear in the outer disc wall, which can irritate nearby nerves
  • Bulging disc — the outer disc wall moves past its normal boundary and can press against the spinal cord or a nerve root
  • Osteoarthritis — degeneration of the facet joints, where the vertebrae meet and hinge, can irritate nearby nerve roots
  • Spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal canal or the foramina, which are the openings through which nerve roots pass
  • Spondylolisthesis — the slippage of one vertebra over another, either from degeneration or a traumatic injury

Treating the underlying causes of neuralgia

Often, symptoms produced by the many causes of neuralgia can be managed using conservative treatment methods. These can include pain medication, epidural steroidal injections, exercise, physical therapy and lifestyle changes.

If chronic symptoms persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery used to treat common spine conditions. We perform minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that offer a shorter recovery time and reduce a patient’s risk of infection and complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^

To help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our caring and dedicated team today for a free MRI review.*