Nerve Compression – North Texas*

38 Procedures ( View All )

About Nerve Compression

When something nears the nerves in your neck and spinal cord and invades the space it shares, you could experience the pain of nerve compression. Dr. Kendall Carll is a board-certified and fellowship-trained spine surgeon who has treated quite a few spinal nerve compression cases in his more than 15 years of practice. Each of his facilities is equipped with technologies to diagnose nerve compression so that Dr. Carll can quickly implement a plan for you to regain your wellbeing.

The spinal cord is a tight strand of nerve tissue that carries electrical signals back and forth from your brain to your muscles. The spinal cord runs through and is protected by the spinal column, a chain of finely engineered bones that runs from your skull to the pelvic region. The spinal column creates a protective channel for the spinal cord, but its dynamic structure is also a major threat to the spinal cord as the bones and intervertebral discs in the spinal cord wear out over time. With no warning, sharp pain, weakness, and numbness can be felt when a nerve compression exists on the spine. Depending on the cause of the compression, symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually, and they may require anything from supportive care to emergency surgery.

Causes

One of the most common causes of spinal cord compression is the gradual wearing down of the cartilage and bones in the spine, a condition called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can stimulate the formation of bone spurs in the vertebrae, which can grow into the spinal nerve canal, thus pinching the spinal cord. Another common cause of nerve compression is a herniated spinal disc, which allows the gel-like material inside one of the intervertebral discs to leak out and push against or irritate the spinal cord or a nearby nerve branch. Other possible causes of spinal nerve compression include:

  • Abnormal spinal alignment (scoliosis)
  • Injury to the spine
  • A spinal tumor
  • Certain bone diseases, such as bone spurs
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infection in the spinal column or spinal cord

It might not be possible to prevent spinal nerve compression since time takes its toll on the spine and the spinal discs. However, performing exercises to strengthen your back muscles, maintaining a healthy weight, and practicing good posture will improve your chances of avoiding spinal nerve compression.

Symptoms

When you have spinal nerve compression, you may experience more than pain and stiffness in the neck, back, or lower back. Many patients report to feeling a burning pain that spreads to the arms, buttocks, or down into the legs (sciatica). Numbness, cramping, or weakness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet that cause trouble with hand coordination are very common symptoms of nerve compression. Other unfortunate indicators of this condition are foot drop (a weakness in one foot that makes it hard to walk without a shuffle) and impotence.

Pressure on nerves in the lumbar region of the back due to spinal nerve compression can also cause a more serious condition known as cauda equina syndrome. This kind of pressure on the spinal nerves is often experienced as a sudden loss of bowel or bladder control, severe or increasing numbness (between the legs, inner thighs, and back of the legs), and severe pain and weakness that spreads into one or both legs. If you have cauda equina syndrome, you may find it hard to walk or get out of a chair. This is a medical emergency and needs to be addressed right away.

Diagnostic Measures

To diagnose spinal cord compression, Dr. Carll will perform a comprehensive physical exam. During the exam, he will look for signs of spinal compressions, such as areas with a loss of sensation, weakness in your arms or legs, or abnormal reflexes. He may also order x-rays of your spine to look for bone abnormalities, plus a CT or MRI scan to view the spinal cord and spinal discs for a closer look. If needed, he can also perform a myelogram (a special x-ray or CT scan taken after injecting dye into the spinal column), and electromyography (an electrical test of muscle activity).

Treatment Options

Nonsurgical

Dr. Carll may initially recommend medications to reduce any inflammation that might be causing the compression on the spinal cord. Ice and heat therapy have also proven useful for minor cases of nerve compression. Physical therapy may help strengthen your back, abdominal, and leg muscles. Braces may also be worn to support your back or neck.

Surgical

Surgical solutions for nerve compression might include removing bone spurs that are putting pressure on the spinal cord. Another possibility is a surgical repair of a fractured vertebra that could be collapsing and putting pressure on the spinal nerve. To give the spinal cord and nerves more room, Dr. Carll may recommend shaving off some of the bone from nearby vertebrae to keep them from pressing on each other. Again, spinal fusion surgery may be necessary to help severe pain with movement that involves twisting and turning.

Seek Pain Relief Today

Board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Carll is passionate about providing his patients with immediate and long-term relief from spinal compression. By using state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies, he can diagnose and treat a broad range of spinal and nerve compression issues, often without surgery. If surgery is necessary, he has been rated as a top spine surgeon in Dallas and Collin counties for multiple years. Stop living with so much pain, weakness, or numbness in your body. Call Spine Care of North Texas to schedule an appointment.

Related Procedures

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.