Occasional numbness that results from sleeping in an awkward position or sitting for too long is usually not much to worry about. But if you’re occasionally dealing with symptoms of this nature that are occurring more frequently, especially in your lower back or neck, you may have a spine-related issue. Below are four possible reasons you may be experiencing numbness in your spine.
This is a broad term that describes issues with nerves located outside the spinal canal. If some of these nerves become damaged, signals can be disrupted and result in a noticeable loss of sensation. A common example of this is what can happen with people with diabetes who have foot numbness. Areas around the spine can also be affected by diabetes-related nerve damage. Other factors that can contribute to peripheral neuropathy include:
• Nerve impingement/entrapment
• Rheumatic diseases and conditions
• Nerve damage due to heavy alcohol consumption
• Circulatory issues
• Vitamin deficiencies
Your primary care physician might initially suspect this type of nerve damage. However, you may be referred to a Los Angeles spine surgeon or neurologist so specialized tests can be done to make an accurate diagnosis.
Spondylolisthesis is the official term for a vertebra that slips forward or in front of an adjacent one. This spinal bone slippage sometimes irritates or compresses a nerve enough to cause numbness and/or muscle weakness. Patients often respond well to nonsurgical options that include:
• Targeted exercises
• Various forms of physical therapy
• Improvements in posture
Spinal infections are considered rare, but they can be a reason for numbness. This is more likely to happen if you’ve recently had a spine-related procedure. If you’ve recently had spine surgery, look for redness, unusual drainage, and other signs of infection, and change the dressing for the wound as directed. If you can’t do this yourself, have someone help you.
Abnormal spinal growths are also rare, but they can be a source of numbness as well. Depending on how big it gets, a spinal tumor may compress nerves or cause related issues with nearby soft tissues and other spine-related parts. Image tests are typically done to determine if a tumor is what’s causing numbness in your spine and nearby areas. A biopsy may also be performed to determine if the tumor is benign or cancerous so a treatment plan can be recommended.
Treatment for numbness in the spine will depend on what the underlying cause is. For instance, if a nerve is irritated or compressed, physical therapy and other conservative treatments may provide relief. If they don’t, you may need medication or be advised to make appropriate changes in diet and exercise habits. If conservative treatment efforts aren’t providing sufficient relief, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure, such as a lumbar foraminotomy. Los Angeles patients may require surgery if there is a structure, such as a damaged disc, that’s placing pressure on a spinal nerve.
If you’re experiencing numbness, tingling, or severe back pain or you have any other questions or concerns about your spinal health, the industry-leading professionals at The Spine Institute are here to help. Our spine experts are pioneers in every aspect of spine care, including prevention, nonsurgical treatment, and state-of-the-art surgical techniques. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.