Common Questions About Spinal Nerve Damage

January 26th, 2023 Becki Andrus
Common Questions About Spinal Nerve Damage

The nerves and cells running through the spinal cord are critical for sending messages between the brain and the rest of the body. If an injury happens that affects these nerves, then it can have a domino effect resulting in pain and functionality concerns.

Spinal nerve damage can be minor and can cause small inconveniences or discomfort in your life. Or serious spinal nerve damage can fall in the category of a spinal cord injury, which can take a toll on overall function and physical abilities.

If you have been diagnosed with spinal nerve damage, or you suspect that you might have an injury affecting the spinal nerves, then you likely have a lot of questions about diagnosis and treatment. Here are some of the most common questions about spinal nerve damage that come up and answers to help you learn more about the condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage in the Spine?

When the nerves in the spine are damaged, it can cause a variety of symptoms:

  • Pain – sharp, burning, or aching sensations
  • Pain that radiates outward or down an arm or leg
  • Tingling sensations in the back, neck, legs, feet, arms, or hands
  • Discomfort
  • Range of motion limitations
  • Difficulty moving or walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Decreased sensations
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bowel or urinary incontinence

These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored if you are experiencing pain or uncomfortable sensations in the back or neck. It’s best to consult with an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible to determine a diagnosis and whether treatment is necessary.

What Are the Symptoms of L4 L5 Nerve Damage?

Certain symptoms can indicate spinal nerve damage in specific parts of the back, and some of these symptoms could happen because of nerve damage affecting the lumbar spine: L4 and L5.

  • Pins and needles sensation or tingling along the sciatic nerve
  • Pain that radiates down the leg
  • Numbness in the leg, foot, and/or toes
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Pain that originates in the back and radiates down the leg

What Causes Spinal Nerve Damage?

Spinal nerve damage can be the result of a variety of health concerns and injuries.

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Nerve compression
  • Sports accidents
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Repetitive motions
  • Car accidents
  • Poor posture
  • And more

Do Orthopedic Doctors Treat Nerve Damage?

Yes, if you have any type of nerve damage, then an orthopedic doctor is the best specialist to meet with for diagnosis and treatment. Since orthopedic doctors specialize in the spine and musculoskeletal system, they have specific training for addressing pinched and damaged nerves.

The nerves affect all parts of the body and can play a role in pain levels and functional abilities. When the nerves are damaged, it can take a toll on your range of motion and ability to complete daily activities.

Not only does an orthopedic doctor diagnose the nerve damage, but they also offer the treatments you need to improve your function and reduce your pain as much as possible.

How Do Doctors Determine Nerve Damage?

When you visit an orthopedic specialist, in-office technology can be helpful for the diagnostic process. Not only will the doctor complete a physical examination, but they might also recommend digital imaging as well.

Can an MRI show nerve damage? It’s possible to use MRI imaging to pinpoint where the nerve damage is originating.

Additionally, there are other tests that can show nerve function and damage. What test shows nerve damage? The most common method is known as a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, which measures the electrical impulse movements through your nerves.

Is Spinal Nerve Damage Serious?

Yes, damage to the nerves can have a life-changing impact on a person. Even seemingly small pinched nerves can become more aggravated over time, causing increasing pain and mobility concerns.

A serious injury to the spinal cord and nerves can result in partial- or whole-body paralysis and affect the limbs.

Sometimes, it isn’t evident that serious spinal nerve damage has occurred. So, if you suspect any type of nerve damage or injury, then the best solution is to meet with an orthopedic specialist without delay.

If you have any type of spinal nerve damage, then delaying diagnosis and treatment could result in more serious issues in the future. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent additional damage to the nerve.

How Do You Fix Spinal Nerve Damage?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any treatment options that can reverse severe damage to spinal cord nerves. Many types of spinal nerve damage are irreversible. Once the nerves are damaged, treatment focuses on reducing pain and improving overall function as much as possible.

Additionally, an orthopedic doctor works with patients to prevent further damage or irritation to the spinal nerves. If you know that the nerves are damaged or inflamed, it’s essential to seek immediate treatment and stop the progression of the spinal nerve damage if possible.

Researchers are continuing to study different modern treatments that might help improve nerve function or promote cell regeneration.

What Are Treatment Options for Spinal Nerve Pain?

Even though there aren’t treatments to fix damaged nerves, your orthopedic doctor can recommend treatments that help to alleviate the pain and symptoms.

  • Medications: It’s common for pain medications to be the first line of treatment to offer immediate relief. But remember that pain medications don’t treat the problem. They just mask the symptoms. One benefit of pain medication is that it can help patients manage the pain, so they are able to take part in other treatment techniques (such as physical therapy).
  • Physical Therapy: Strengthening the muscles and improving the range of motion might have a positive effect on keeping spinal discs in a secure location and reducing the compression of spinal nerves. A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise plan to meet your unique needs.
  • Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy might be helpful when the spinal nerve damage reaches a point where it is interfering with daily functions at home and work. This type of therapy focuses on improving function to support a patient in work and home responsibilities.
  • Nerve Blocks: When nerve damage is more serious and intense, basic medication and treatments might not be enough for relief. A spinal nerve block injection might help to dull the nerve and reduce localized inflammation.
  • Surgery: The final option to consider is surgery, but this method is only recommended when patients aren’t having success with less-invasive treatments. This surgery might help by freeing the nerve from compression.

Should I Go to a Neurologist or Orthopedist for Back Pain?

Both neurologists and orthopedic surgeons can help with spinal nerve damage. Depending on the location of the pinched nerve and the type of injury or condition that you have, either specialist can be a good resource.

Many people visit an orthopedist first, then get a referral to a neurologist if necessary. The specialist will be able to assess your condition and determine whether it falls in their specialty. If the doctor feels like the spinal nerve damage is outside of their abilities, then they will refer you to meet with another doctor.

When you are ready to book an appointment with a specialist who can help with spinal nerve damage, then Orthopedic Associates is the team to call. Our full-service diagnostics and treatments are helpful for many types of back and spine problems. Call us to book an appointment: (972) 420-1776.


Talk to an Orthopedic Specialist in Flower Mound

Request an appointment at Orthopedic Associates in Flower Mound, TX and start your path to a happier life.