Pinched nerve prevention
Pinched nerve prevention is difficult because one of the biggest contributors to nerve compression is the natural aging process. The spine is vulnerable to age-related nerve compression due to the high volume of nerves in such a compact, flexible structure. As years go by, nerve compression can happen if parts of the spine begin to weaken. Weakening can cause them to become swollen or displaced, narrowing the nerve pathways and causing a pinched nerve.
While nobody can avoid aging, there are many other contributing factors that can cause a pinched nerve to develop in the spine. This includes injury as well as lifestyle choices like nutrition, posture and smoking. If you have dealt with pinched nerve pain in the past, or you are at risk for this condition, learning more about the causes and risk factors for a pinched nerve can give you a better chance of avoiding chronic pain in the future.
What causes a pinched nerve in the spine?
Neck or back pain is commonly caused by nerve compression. Pinched spinal nerves can also produce symptoms like shooting pain, muscle weakness in the arms or legs and numbness in the fingers or toes. That’s because the brain sends signals throughout the body using a complex infrastructure of nerves. These nerves branch off the spinal cord and exit the spinal column before traveling into different parts of the body. However, at such a close location to spinal anatomy, the nerves are at risk for compression or irritation. Common sources of pinched nerves include:
- Degenerative disc disease or other disc damage
- Facet disease
- Bone spurs
- Muscle inflammation from injury
- Disease or infection
- Spinal osteoarthritis
Pinched nerve prevention tips
In general, the best way to prevent a pinched nerve is to live a healthy lifestyle. Developing a strong and flexible back reduces the likelihood of injury, while staying in good shape reduces the weight put on the spine, limiting the development of disc problems and other forms of deterioration. It is true that a certain degree of spine degeneration is to be expected as we grow older, but with a little work, you can increase your chances of living without neck or back pain.
It is also important to avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake. In addition to the many health risks these activities can cause, they also interfere with the flow of nutrients to the spine, which can speed up the development of spine conditions that can cause a pinched nerve.
Many patients with a pinched nerve are able to find relief and return to everyday life using a course of conservative treatments such as pain medication, physical therapy, massage and epidural steroid injections. Surgery may be considered when weeks or months of treatment do not bring lasting relief.
If you are concerned about the risks and difficulties involved with traditional open spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures. Our surgeons use state-of-the-art technology to access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, resulting in a much shorter recovery period^ for our patients.
Call today for a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to find out if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.