Nerve Compression in the Spine; A sign that something May be Wrong.

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Spinal nerve compression occurs when the area provided for existing spinal nerves gets smaller and pressure begins to build up against them. Nerve compression is often termed as a pinched nerve or radiculopathy.

There are many conditions that can develop in and around the spine that can lead to compression of the spinal nerves. The list below details the more common seen ones.

  1. Bulging Disc – This condition is similar to a herniated disc listed below with one minor difference. The inner gel-like substance of the disc does not push through the annulus, instead, it causes a portion of the disc to swell or bulge placing pressure on surrounding nerves and structures.
  2. Herniated Disc – This is a condition where the inner portion of a vertebral disc breaks through the tough outer wall called the annulus. The annulus usually is weakened by degeneration from years of repetitive strain and daily wear and tear. A disc doesn’t need to be degenerated to have a herniation occur, it all depends on how much force or pressure was placed on it when the disc herniated.
  3. Spinal Stenosis – Occurs when the space in the spinal canal reserved for the spinal cord and other tissues gets smaller. Reduction of this area can lead to nerve compression. If the spinal cord becomes compressed it is termed myelopathy.
  4. Foraminal Stenosis – Exiting nerve roots leave the spinal canal through an opening known as the foramina. When debris and other conditions make this area smaller and provide less room for these nerves, compression can occur.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Back

Whether the pinched nerve is in the back or neck, the symptoms will be quite similar. The difference being that nerve compression in the neck will have symptoms felt in the arms and hands, compression of a nerve in your lower back will affect your buttocks, upper and lower leg, as well as your foot.

Telltale signs of compression include numbness, pins and needles sensations, and pain that radiates down the affected limb. As the compression worsens and nutrients begin to be cut off from the area, weakness, and loss of coordination can start to set in.

It is important to have these symptoms looked as prolonged damage to the nerves may become permanent.

If you are suffering from any of the above and you would like some more information, OLSS has an online tool that can help provide some answers. Just click the Symptom Evaluation button below to get started on the road to recovery