Spinal nerves send motor, sensory, and autonomic signals between the central nervous system and the body and are part of the peripheral nervous system. They are essential for carrying information that controls body movements and sensations to the brain. When a nerve gets injured, compressed, or damaged, it can cause discomfort, increased sensitivity, numbness, muscle weakness, and pain.
Damaged Nerve Roots
Nerve root pain is often caused by other underlying conditions that have caused compression or damage to the nerve root. Causes of nerve root pain can include:
- Herniated discs
- Spinal injury
- Spinal stenosis
- Spinal infection
- Bone spurs
- Inflammatory disease
- Spinal tumors
- Spinal cysts
Spinal nerves impacted by injuries or infection can lose their ability to control the body areas, lose their functional capacity, lose sensation, and die.
Nerve damage can be diagnosed on a neurological exam and correlated with MRI and X-ray imaging. Conditions that MRI can identify include herniated discs, spinal cord compression or fracture, arthritic development, tumors, or cysts pressing on a nerve.
- MRI images are obtained with a magnetic field and radio waves.
- MRI shows spine images from the side/sagittal view and cross-sectional/axial views.
- This allows the chiropractic doctor to see the vertebrae and discs and identify abnormalities.
- The spinal cord is a gray area in the middle surrounded by the spinal fluid, which appears white.
- Little white channels on either side of the spinal cord are where the nerve roots branch off.
- X-rays can show the alignment of the bones along the spine and determine any narrowing or damage to the discs.
It is important to be evaluated and diagnosed for signs and symptoms of nerve injury as soon as possible, as nerve damage accelerates and worsens.
Sometimes, the symptoms improve by themselves and do not require treatment. Nonetheless, physicians begin with conservative, non-surgical approaches to treat nerve root pain. Chiropractic and physical massage therapy involves specific movements, stretches, and exercises to keep the affected muscles and joints active, prevent stiffness and help restore function and feeling. Treatment can include:
- Therapeutic massage
- Manual adjustment/resistance treatment
- Trigger point therapy
- Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy
- Joint stretching
- Electrical stimulation
- Specialized exercise
- Activity modification
- Anti-inflammatory diet
Liu, Yan, and Huan Wang. “Peripheral nerve injury-induced changes in the spinal cord and strategies to counteract/enhance the changes to promote nerve regeneration.” Neural regeneration research vol. 15,2 (2020): 189-198. doi:10.4103/1673-5374.265540
Menorca, Ron M G, et al. “Nerve physiology: mechanisms of injury and recovery.” Hand clinics vol. 29,3 (2013): 317-30. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2013.04.002
Shehab, Safa Al-Deen Saudi. “Fifth lumbar spinal nerve injury causes neurochemical changes in corresponding and adjacent spinal segments: a possible mechanism underlying neuropathic pain.” Journal of chemical neuroanatomy vol. 55 (2014): 38-50. doi:10.1016/j.jchemneu.2013.12.002
Stoll, G, and H W Müller. “Nerve injury, axonal degeneration, and neural regeneration: basic insights.” Brain pathology (Zurich, Switzerland) vol. 9,2 (1999): 313-25. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3639.1999.tb00229.x
Ye, Xuan, et al. “Nerve fascicle transfer using a part of the C-7 nerve for spinal accessory nerve injury.” Journal of neurosurgery. Spine vol. 28,5 (2018): 555-561. doi:10.3171/2017.8.SPINE17582
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