Spinal Nerve Compression and Related Symptoms

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Spinal nerve compression leads to symptoms that can be felt in the upper or lower body extremities. Symptoms are discussed in detail with possible next steps for seeking help.

Spinal Nerve Compression, What Causes it.

Spinal nerve compression can be caused by a wide array of different conditions that may affect the neck or back (most often the lower back). When a nerve exits the spinal canal debris or inflammation may place pressure on it causing it to not function correctly, sending signals to your extremities that trigger symptoms of pain, numbness, and muscular dysfunction. This may be caused by a herniated disc, a disc bulge, inflammation, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, as well as others.

Myelopathy (Compression of the Spinal Cord)

Although it is not as commonly seen as compression of exiting nerve roots, compression of the spinal cord may occur in the upper section of the spinal canal.  Myelopathy (spinal cord compression) is most often encountered when dealing with traumatic injuries to the neck.  The condition can be quite dangerous and even life threatening.

Symptoms include:

  • Legs feeling “heavy”
  • Unable to walk at a quicker than normal pace
  • Fine motor skills that use your fingers deteriorate; this could be handwriting skills, manipulating small objects, and even tying your shoes.
  • Shooting pain felt in your arms and legs.  These are not constant, but seem to be brought on when bending the head forward (compressing the spinal cord).
  • Pain in the arm

If you have these symptoms it is suggested that you speak with your doctor to find out what the cause is and what treatment you should seek.

*NOTE* When suffering from a traumatic injury that affects your neck it is important to seek medical attention.  Immobilizing the neck until a medical review has been performed should be a priority when an accident suspecting spine injury has occurred.

If you are not sure you suffer from a compressed or pinched spinal nerve, take the time to use our Condition Checking Tool.