Causes of spinal pinched nerves — aging

The natural aging process is one of the most common causes of pinched nerves in the spine. As we get older, declining circulation and years of wear cause the parts of the spine to dry out and deteriorate. This is normal and unavoidable, happening to every person. However, spinal deterioration can advance to the point that nerve compression occurs, also called a pinched nerve, causing pain and mobility problems that can have a severe impact on your quality of life.

While the aging process cannot be reversed, but there are many potential treatment options that can help manage discomfort. Learning more about the causes and the full range of treatment options for a pinched spinal nerve is a great first step in getting back to the people and activities you’ve been missing.

How age causes spinal nerve compression

In the spine, several parts work together to cause the movement required by the neck and back, while ensuring that the spinal column is strong and durable. For instance:

  • Spinal discs cushion and separate adjacent vertebrae
  • Facet joints connect vertebrae and allow for movement
  • Muscles, ligaments and tendons support the spine
  • The spinal canal and foramina protect the spinal cord and nerve roots

Age-related degeneration of these parts causes pinched nerves because the nerve pathways in the spine are very tightly constructed. This means that any displaced anatomy that causes further narrowing can put excessive pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root. For example, the discs can bulge or rupture and the facet joints can become arthritic and develop bone spurs, any of which can be the cause of a pinched nerve.

Treatment options

In order to relieve nerve compression, the exact source of the problem needs to be identified by a physician, who will then work with you to make a treatment plan. The goal of initial treatment is to relieve pain and restore mobility. This is usually attempted with conservative methods like low-impact exercise, over-the-counter medication, posture correction, massage and hot/cold compresses.

If you continue to experience chronic pain that does not respond to this approach, your doctor may refer you to a specialist to explore surgical options. Before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open neck or back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative, offering our patients an outpatient procedure with a shorter recovery time compared to traditional procedures.^

Contact our team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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