Don’t Ignore Shooting Pain or Numbness in your Arms or Legs

As a neurosurgeon, I’ve encountered numerous patients whose lives have been disrupted by shooting pains, numbness, and weakness in their arms and legs. These symptoms often stem from underlying spinal conditions, which, when left untreated, can lead to significant complications – including permanent nerve damage. In this article, I explain common conditions that can cause such symptoms, the potential dangers of neglecting treatment, and the neurosurgical interventions that offer hope for relief and recovery.

Possible Causes

Shooting pains, numbness, and weakness in the extremities are often indicators of spinal nerve compression or irritation. Common conditions that can give rise to these symptoms include:

Herniated Discs: When the gel-like material inside a spinal disc protrudes and presses on nearby nerves, it can result in shooting pains, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs.

Spinal Stenosis: This narrowing of the spinal canal, often caused by osteoarthritis, can exert pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, leading to shooting pains, numbness, or difficulty walking.

Spondylolisthesis/Slipped Vertebrae: Spondylolisthesis is a spinal condition where one of the vertebrae slips out of place onto the vertebra below it, often due to degenerative changes or injury. This can result in shooting pain, numbness, stiffness or weakness in the legs, as well as back pain.

Sciatica: Sciatic nerve compression, often caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, manifests as shooting pain that radiates from the lower back down one leg, accompanied by numbness and weakness.

What is Feels Like

The best way to describe what concerning shooting pains feel like is to imagine striking your funny bone. The pain you feel is nerve pain from pressure placed on the nerve in the elbow. Sometimes it is also accompanied by tingling sensations and motor weakness. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, but they often interfere with daily activities and diminish quality of life. Additionally, numbness may develop, making it challenging to sense touch or distinguish hot from cold. Without intervention, these symptoms can worsen over time, leading to chronic pain, loss of function, and even permanent nerve damage.

The Dangers of Delayed Treatment

Neglecting treatment for spinal conditions can have serious consequences, including:

Nerve Damage: Prolonged nerve compression can result in irreversible damage, leading to chronic pain, weakness, or sensory loss in the affected limbs.

Functional Impairment: Spinal conditions can limit mobility and impair daily activities, affecting independence and overall well-being.

Progression of Symptoms: Untreated spinal conditions may worsen over time, resulting in increased pain, neurological deficits, and diminished treatment options.

How Surgery can Help

Neurosurgery offers effective treatment options for spinal conditions causing shooting pains and related symptoms:

  • Decompression Surgery: Procedures such as discectomy or laminectomy aim to relieve pressure on compressed nerves, alleviating shooting pains and restoring function.
  • Spinal Fusion: In cases of spinal instability or severe degeneration, spinal fusion surgery may be performed to stabilize the spine and prevent further nerve compression.
  • Minimally Invasive Techniques: Advances in neurosurgical techniques allow for minimally invasive procedures, resulting in smaller incisions, less post-operative pain, and faster recovery times.

Shore Medical Center: Your Path to Recovery

Shore Medical Center offers outstanding neurosurgical care right in your community. Unlike larger teaching hospitals where residents may conduct surgeries, at Shore, you’ll always be in the capable hands of highly skilled neurosurgeons known for our expertise and patient outcomes. Shore’s neurosurgeons excel in navigating the spine’s delicate anatomy, with or without the latest Brainlab spinal navigation system, which provides an added layer of precision, especially in complex cases, ensuring optimal outcomes.

Supported by Shore’s Advanced Spine and Orthopedic Institute (ASOI) nursing staff, patients receive exceptional care and education, often returning home the day after surgery. With the comfort of staying close to home, Shore patients benefit from the convenience of having loved ones nearby to support them through their journey.

Dr. Francis Kralick, a Penn Affiliated Surgeon with Shore Physicians Group since 2016, brings over two decades of neurosurgical expertise to our Neurosurgery Division. Board Certified with a subspecialty in complex spinal surgery, Dr. Kralick trained under the esteemed Dr. Fred Simeone, former chairman of Jefferson University’s Department of Neurosurgery and holds a special distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons (FACOS). With a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics/Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University and a Doctor of Osteopathy from Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Kralick combines his engineering background with medical acumen to navigate the complexities of the spine. His commitment to patient well-being is evident through thorough assessments, honest communication, and a mantra of “Back to Life,” emphasizing personalized care and innovative treatments to restore patients’ quality of life. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kralick, please call 609-365-6239. Click here to learn more about Dr. Kralick and read patient reviews.