How does aging lead to neuralgia?

Neuralgia is the medical term used to describe any pain or symptoms that occur when a nerve, typically near the spine, is pinched. At some point, most people will experience some form of nerve dysfunction. That is because nerve pain often develops as a result of the natural aging process of the spine when certain degenerative spine conditions cause nerve compression. These degenerative spine conditions include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
  • Bone spurs (osteophytes)
  • Arthritis of the spine (spinal osteoarthritis)

In the following article, you will learn about the correlation between neuralgia and the aging process, as well as what treatment options may prove effective for this degenerative condition.

How aging causes neuralgia

Nerve pain is a common symptom of neuralgia. This condition occurs from the spine aging and weakening due to years of stress, excess weight and repetitive motion. Each component of the spine is affected differently by the aging process and can cause nerve pain for different reasons, including because of the discs and the facet joints.

Discs in the spine are often the main source of degenerative spine conditions. The disc’s act as support for the vertebrae, cushioning them as they move at the facet joints. Certain factors can cause the discs to be squeezed between the vertebrae, such as excess weight and high-impact activities. As the discs endure pressure from the vertebrae, the inner disc fluid (nucleus pulposus) presses against the outer elastic layer (annulus fibrosus), trying to expand under the pressure.

After enough pressure the disc begins to weaken and the outer elastic layer of the disc may give way, causing it to either bulge or herniate and impact a nearby nerve. Spondylolisthesis can occur when the disc is so damaged that the vertebra above it actually slips over the vertebra below it, pinching a nerve and causing limited mobility in that area of the spine.

The facet joints are also responsible for nerve pain by allowing the vertebrae in the spine to bend and twist. Over time, the cartilage that lines the joints may wear down due to years of repetitive motion. As this happens, the vertebra may start to rub together, creating bone-on-bone contact. If this continues, bone spurs may develop to stabilize the spine. Bone spurs can stiffen the spine and narrow the space where the nerve travels, resulting in a pinched nerve.

Neuralgia treatment options

While neuralgia and the aging process cannot be stopped or reversed, there are a variety of nonsurgical methods that can help you can manage your risk for neuralgia symptoms. Talk to your physician about developing a conservative treatment plan that may include pain medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hot and cold therapy, physical therapy and lifestyle changes.

If you find that several months of these treatments have not provided any lasting relief, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can help ease the pain and discomfort associated with neuralgia. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain.

At Laser Spine Institute, we have a patient satisfaction score of 96 and a patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^ To learn more about the benefits of our procedures and determine if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, call for your no-cost MRI review* today.