Traveling pain overview and treatment options

Traveling pain is a term used to describe the sensation of discomfort that feels like it is traveling along the path of a nerve and may be compressed or irritated. Traveling pain originating from the spine is a type of radiculopathy — a term describing the symptoms associated with a compressed spinal nerve root which also includes tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Nerve roots are the point where a nerve branches off the spinal cord and are particularly vulnerable to becoming constricted by spinal narrowing.

Traveling pain and other symptoms of radiculopathy can be very disruptive to normal activities. If you are dealing with this condition, educating yourself as a patient can help you work with your doctor to get the treatment you need to resume a healthy and active lifestyle. In the following article, you will learn about the causes of this traveling pain and the options available to treat this condition.

Causes of traveling pain

There are a number of causes of traveling pain, but very often it originates from a problem with a disc in the back. In between each spinal vertebra is a soft cushion, or disc, that acts as a shock absorber for the spine. On occasion, these discs bulge, shift or become herniated, which can put pressure on the nerve roots as they exit the spinal column. It is this pressure that causes radiculopathy.

The exact course of the traveling pain is dependent on the origin of the nerve compression, which includes:

  • The cervical spine. A compressed nerve in the upper spine may create traveling pain in the shoulders as well as cause muscle weakness and numbness in the arms and hands.
  • The thoracic spine. A compressed nerve in the middle spine may result in symptoms traveling around the ribcage as well as the chest and abdomen.
  • The lumbar spine. A compressed nerve in the lower spine may cause traveling pain in the buttocks, hips, legs and feet.

Having a good understanding of the location of your symptoms can help you work with your doctor to diagnose and treat your traveling pain.

Traveling pain diagnosis and treatment

The correct diagnosis of the source of traveling pain requires a visit to your primary care doctor or another qualified medical professional. Depending on the cause, origin and severity of the compression, a number of treatment options may exist. Many doctors recommend a course of conservative therapies, including physical therapy, hot and cold compression therapy, pain medication and epidural steroid injections to help treat your traveling pain without the use of surgical intervention.

If the traveling pain is not improved by conservative treatments, surgery may become necessary. Previously, addressing spine conditions like a pinched nerve, herniated disc, foraminal stenosis or spinal stenosis would require traditional open spine surgery. However, advances in medical technology have allowed for the creation of outpatient minimally invasive alternatives like the procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, our board-certified surgeons+ use a less than 1-inch incision and other muscle-sparing techniques to access the spine. As the leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery, ^ we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck and back pain since 2005.

Our procedures have no lengthy recovery^ and a lower risk of complication for patients compared to traditional open spine procedures. Contact us today to learn more about the traveling pain procedures we can perform to help you find the relief you need.

Our dedicated team can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to help determine if you may be a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.