If you’re bothered by chronic pain in your arms or legs, you’ve probably thought a lot about how to get rid of that pain. You might have wondered what caused it. But you may not have considered that the cause of your pain may offer clues about the best way to relieve your pain.
For example, if your pain is caused by a tight or pulled muscle, or osteoarthritis, your primary care physician or an orthopedic specialist, such as an orthopedic spine surgeon, may well be able to treat and resolve your pain.
However, if your pain is caused by a pinched or damaged nerve, your best bet for relief may be a neurosurgeon. At Neurosurgery One, we are experienced not only at diagnosing the source of your pain, but treating and relieving pain caused by damage to the nerves.
Like bundles of electric wires, nerves transmit signals, including pain signals, to the brain. Irritation, such as with a pinched nerve, can disrupt the way those signals are transmitted, and the result can be ongoing and even intense pain.
Pinched nerves can be caused by:
- Repetitive motion
- Inflammation or pressure on a nerve root
- Pinched nerves can cause pain in the neck or lower back, and pain that radiates from the neck into the shoulder and arm.
Nerve pain has several characteristics that differentiate it from other types of pain. Those include:
- Tingling, sharp, pins-and-needles feeling
- Chronic lasting pain
- Radiation down arms and hands or legs and feet
Differences between neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons
Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons are trained and qualified spine surgeons. The primary difference between them is the duration and type of training each receives.
After earning a medical degree, neurosurgeons complete a seven-year residency focused on the surgical treatment of neurological conditions. The residency program for a neurosurgeon is long and difficult, because we are learning about the complex workings of the nervous system and advanced techniques in neurosurgical operations. Some of us complete an additional fellowship in a particular area of study following the residency, although all neurosurgeons have performed hundreds to thousands of spinal surgeries during their residencies, beginning the first month of their training.
Neurosurgeons are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders involving:
- Spine and spinal cord
- Intracranial and intraspinal blood vessels
After finishing a medical degree, orthopedic surgeons complete a five-year surgical residency focused on the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. Orthopedists diagnose and treat bone and joint disorders, such as:
- Spinal disorders
- Sports injuries
- Bone tumors
- Total joint replacement
Treatment for pain caused by damaged nerves
At Neurosurgery One, unless it’s an emergency situation, we only consider spine surgery after nonsurgical pain relief treatments have been tried and failed.
When surgery is necessary, we can ease your symptoms by decompressing, or relieving pressure on, the compressed nerves in your neck or lower back.
When a pinched nerve is causing symptoms, the most common surgical procedures remove pieces of bone or soft tissue (such as a herniated disc) — or both. This relieves pressure by creating more space for the nerves to exit the spinal canal. There are several different types of decompression surgery.
Whether it’s through surgery or other treatment, if you have persistent pain or numbness in your lower back, arms or legs, a neurosurgeon has the training and expertise to work with you to relieve that pain.