Although typically not a life threatening condition, a pinched nerve can be painful enough that knowing the risk factors and how to prevent a pinched nerve, if possible, is well worth your time. A pinched nerve occurs when an abnormality in the spinal anatomy, whether it be a herniated disc, bulging disc, or bone spurs, extrudes into the spinal canal and compresses the surrounding spinal nerves. 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 present symptoms that travel as far as the toes.
Preventable and Non-preventable Risk Factors
Neural compression in the spine can have a variety of causes, not all of which can be anticipated and averted with simple lifestyle changes.
- Preventable – by exercising and managing your weight, you can take extra pressure off of the spinal anatomy, while still keeping surrounding muscles and bones strong. Always practicing good posture also helps keep your spine aligned and your weight distributed evenly across all spinal regions. Smoking wreaks havoc on your spine — not only does nicotine inhibit circulation, but it saps the nutrients from your intervertebral discs, while also interfering with heart and lung function.
- Non-preventable – leading causes of pinched nerves are degenerative diseases (degenerative disc disease and facet disease), which can occur as a natural part of aging. Some people are also born with genetic predispositions to pinched nerves, such as scoliosis, lordosis, or Paget’s disease. Certain pre-natal 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 non-surgically with a course of conservative treatment that might include physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, epidural steroid injections, and over-the-counter or prescription analgesics, among others. If weeks or months of these methods offer no improvement in your condition, it may be time to contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team of orthopedic experts can tell you more about the minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover lives without back pain. Request a free review of your MRI or CT scan, or find out more information about pinched nerve risk factors.