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Posted on 12-04-2016

It may come as a surprise to some to learn the numbness or pain in their fingertips or leg actually stems from an issue initiating somewhere along their spinal column. How can pain or numbness in one area of the body so remote be traced all the way back to the spine?

Actually, the spinal column houses and protects complex bundles of nerves that run throughout the entire body. These nerves send messages back and forth to the brain by way of the spinal cord and enable us to signal our muscles to perform countless physical activities such as pinching our fingers or flexing our foot. When a nerve near the spinal column is compromised in some manner it will affect how the nerve functions throughout its location in the body.

Radiating or radicular pain, occurs when a nerve root is compressed, damaged or inflamed near where the nerve junctions with the spinal column. Just as normal signals radiate down the entire nerve in order for our muscles to receive proper messages, pain can radiate out to remote areas of the body when the nerve root is unable to function properly.

There are a multitude of reasons why a nerve root is unable to function normally. Herniated discs exude material that may press on an adjacent nerve, bone spurs along the spine can irritate nerves and thinning discs can narrow the gaps where nerves exit joints, thus squeezing the nerves. Radicular pain is important because if left untreated, it can eventually lead to muscle weakness in an extremity because muscles in the region are not receiving proper nerve signals. In extreme cases, muscle weakness could severely limit one's ability to use a limb.

If you or someone you know, has unexplained pain or weakness in any part of an extremity, please contact us for an evaluation to determine if nerve compression, inflammation or damage could be the culprit.

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