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Back Neck and Spine

What is impingement of nerve roots?


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June 23, 2012 12:29PM

A nerve root impingement is what occurs when the root of a nerve i.e. the portion that enters the vertebral column via a vertebral foramen (hole in the spine) is pressed upon (impinged) by a number of possible things.

The more common of these being osteophytes (degenerative bony changes in the spinal body). A space occupying lesion (tumor of some kind begning or malignant). Spinal muscle tissue becoming hypertonic (stuck in contraction) and causing a narrowing of the foraminal space as a result. Disc degeneration resulting in a narrowing of the foraminal space. Trauma can also result in nerve root compression. Degenerative vertebral disorders (such as spinal TB, ankylosing spondylitis etc) may also result in nerve root compression.

Localised to the Cervical spine (neck) Thoracic outlet syndrome (can create nerve root impingement often resulting in parasthesia (abnormal sensation) and/or numbness in the arm and hand of the affect side (i.e left nerve root compression = left arm and hand issues). TOS is essentially the same as hypertonic changes in the muscles lower down however as it is such a common dysfunction it has its own name.

Nerve root impingement can create neurological symptoms (pain, parasthesia, numbness or in motor nerves, loss of motor function). These symptoms tend to occur below the site of impingement however they can also present above the impingement i.e pain in your neck as a result of a T1 impingement.