What are the symptoms of neuralgia?

The symptoms of spinal neuralgia, or nerve-related pain in the neck and back, will vary from person to person. However, several symptoms that consistently indicate neuralgia are pain, tingling, numbness and weakness, originating in the spine. These sensations may remain localized at the site of nerve compression, or they can travel along the path of the nerve.

Neuralgia can be severely life-affecting if it becomes chronic. Activities that were once a normal part of daily life, such as grocery shopping, walking your dog, or working in the yard can become difficult or even impossible to accomplish. Learning more about neuralgia and the specific symptoms can help you become a better informed patient and help you work with your doctor to develop the treatment you need to get back to the people and activities you’ve been missing.

Symptoms of neuralgia and regions of the spine

Neuralgia can have many causes, but it is often related to nerve compression caused by a spine condition like a bone spur or a herniated disc. The spine is intricately constructed to support the upper body and protect the spinal cord, while still allowing for movement. If spinal anatomy, like a disc or a joint, become displaced or swollen slightly it can result in narrowing of the spine (stenosis) that causes nerve compression and neuralgia. These are three main regions of the spine, top to bottom, and the location of symptoms will vary based on the level of the spine affected:

  • Cervical (upper) spine. Tingling or weakness that spreads through the shoulders, arms, hands and fingers. These sensations typically follow the path of the compressed nerve.
  • Thoracic (middle) spine. Radiating symptoms, including pain or a pins-and-needles sensation, that travel around the rib cage, kidneys and chest.
  • Lumbar (lower) spine. Electric or burning pain, along with tingling, numbness and muscle weakness that shoots through the buttocks, hips, legs, feet and toes.

Treatment options for neuralgia

If you think you may be experiencing nerve pain, see your doctor for a diagnosis and to develop a treatment plan. Common treatment options include pain medication, hot and cold therapy, exercise and physical therapy. If you find that weeks or months of these treatments prove ineffective, you might start to consider surgery.

If you are anxious about undergoing a traditional open neck or back procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can tell you more about our minimally invasive spine surgery performed in our state-of-the-art outpatient centers. These procedures are an alternative to traditional open spine surgery, offering a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complications like infection and failed back surgery syndrome.

Our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can help you obtain a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.