Risk factors for developing a pinched spinal nerve

A pinched nerve can be painful and debilitating, affecting time with family, your job and your ability to get a good night’s sleep. For this reason, knowing the risk factors and how to potentially prevent a pinched nerve can be worth your time. A pinched nerve occurs in the spinal column when displaced spinal anatomy, such as a herniated disc, bulging disc or bone spurs, causes narrowing and puts pressure on a nerve in the spine. And, because nerve roots exiting the spinal column form a network throughout the entire body, it’s possible for a pinched nerve in the lower back to cause symptoms that travel into the extremities.

Preventable and non-preventable risk factors for a pinched nerve

While many of the underlying causes of spinal nerve compression are associated with the natural aging process and not preventable, there are controllable factors that can lead to the development of these conditions.

  • Preventable. By exercising and managing your weight, you can take extra pressure off the spinal anatomy, while also strengthening surrounding muscles. Practicing good posture also keeps your spine aligned and your weight distributed evenly across all spinal regions. Smoking is an activity that can be particularly damaging to the spine — not only does nicotine inhibit circulation, but it saps the nutrients from your spinal discs while also interfering with heart and lung function.
  • Non-preventable. Leading causes of pinched nerves are degenerative diseases, which occur as part of the natural aging process. Some people are also born with genetic predispositions to conditions that can cause pinched nerves, such as scoliosis, lordosis or Paget’s disease. Certain prenatal conditions, like spinal muscular atrophy, can also cause the spinal canal to be abnormally narrow, which greatly increases the risk of neural compression.

Conservative treatments for a pinched nerve

In most cases, the symptoms of a pinched nerve can be managed nonsurgically with a course of conservative treatment, including physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, epidural steroid injections and over-the-counter or prescription medication, among others. If weeks or months of these methods offer no improvement in your condition, however, surgery can become an option. If you are being recommended to undergo a spine procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our caring team can tell you more about our minimally invasive spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from neck or back pain.

Call us today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

Browse Related Resources