Strand House, 169 Richmond Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT2 5DA 020 8546 6464

We're closed until Wednesday at 9:00 am
Foot and Ankle Pain

Nerve Root Compression

The human spine contains 33 bones known as vertebrae, the role of these vertebrae is to protect the spinal chord that runs throughout the entire back from the back of the head down to the tail bone. They are supported by the discs that are in between each vertebra and together ensure we stay upright and that we can bend and twist. The spine lays in a S shape from forward to back which is vitally important for the heath of the spine and the curves are responsible for maintaining shock absorption through the spine during day to day activities. When injuries occur to the spine, the discs and other soft tissue structures around the spine may become damaged and cause compression on the spinal nerves. Those who are aged 30-50 are more likely to experience a nerve root compression or radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve) and with that they may feel pain in a variety of areas throughout the body.

nerve root compression


Each nerve root in the spine supplies different areas of the body therefore depending on the location in the spine where compression has occurred will depend on where and what symptoms are felt.

Cervical Spine (Neck)

  • Pain located in the neck, shoulder, upper back or sometimes the arms
  • Weakness and/or numbness in the arm and shoulder usually experienced on one side

Thoracic Spine (Mid back)

Thoracic nerve compression is uncommon and could be missed and diagnosed as heart, abdominal or gallbladder complications

  • Burning sensation or sharp shooting pain in the rib or abdomen 
  • Numbness and tingling 

Lumbar Spine (Lower back)

Lumbar symptoms are closely related to sciatica symptoms as the same issue is occurring, that of compression to the nerve. In some cases, bowel and bladder can become compressed causing bowel and bladder symptoms. (if that is the case seek medical attention immediately)

  • Sharp pain in the back provoked when sitting or coughing.
  • Numbness or weakness in legs and foot.
  • Tingling or numbness in the back of leg.


Below are some of the potential causes for a nerve compression within the spine causing referred pain:

  • A disc injury – herniated or protruding disk causing compression on the nerve
  • Degenerative disc disease 
  • Calcification – bony spurs grow and cause compression with movement
  • Spondylolisthesis – when vertebra moves and rests on the one sitting underneath
  • Spinal stenosis – a painful narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Scoliosis 
  • Diabetes 
  • Compression fractures

Additional risk factor contributing to radiculopathy:

  • Ageing 
  • Being overweight 
  • Poor lifting techniques poor posture
  • Repetitive movement


Treatment for nerve root compression is subject to change depending on the severity of the injury. In a lot of cases you can recover from this injury without surgical treatment. This comes down to the underlying cause. 

Some common treatment approaches

  • Ice and heat application 
  • Cervical collar 
  • Physiotherapy 
  • Pain medication to reduce symptoms 
  • Steroid injections
  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen)

In rare cases doctors may advise you have a small operation to treat he cause of the compressions some procedures include:

  • Repair of a herniated disc
  • Widening of the spinal canal
  • Removing or fusing bones.


Preventative strategies to aim and prevent compression pain:

  • Trying to maintain good posture
  • Good lifting technique
  • Exercise regularly
  • Develop good core strength 
  • Keep yourself within a healthy weight 


Looking for a physio in Kingston? Whether you need physio treatment following a sports injury or surgery, you want to improve your health and fitness or you woke up with a stiff neck this morning, we can help you safely and effectively. Call us today on 020 8546 6464 to start getting back on track. Our physiotherapists in Kingston work with you to make sure you get the best treatment and results as quickly as possible.

Strand House, 169 Richmond Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT2 5DA 020 8546 6464