Dodgers buy out Casey Blake; athlete dogged by pinched nerve, other injuries

Oct 6 2011
The Los Angeles Dodgers have declined their 2012 option for infielder Casey Blake, whose 2011 season was marred by a pinched nerve and other conditions.

Blake was expected to be the everyday third baseman for 2011, according to However, he was sidelined by an oblique strain, a staph infection in his elbow and a pinched nerve, which required surgery to ease pressure caused by an arthritic neck.

The spinal column along the back and neck consists of the vertebrae, the facet joints and the intervertebral discs that cushion the spaces between the bones and act as shock absorbers. Collapse or displacement of any of these structures can lead to pain if it affects the surrounding nerves.

A pinched nerve can be the result of a herniated disc or bone spurs. A herniated disc occurs when one of these gel-filled structures ruptures or bulges out. Bone spurs may grow as a response to spinal arthritis. When a nerve is pinched in the neck, it may lead to numbness in the hand because of disruptions to the signals between the brain and limb. Other symptoms may include burning or tingling sensations.

It is best to approach treatment for a pinched nerve conservatively in the beginning. It may help to relax the muscles with a hot shower, hot/cold packs, massages or lying down with a warm towel under the neck. Physical activity may also relieve the pain. Range of motion exercises, such as neck rolls, or a light stroll can be helpful. Medications such as ibuprofen may ease the pain as well.

Some cases of pinched nerves are so bad, they may require surgical treatment. In Blake's case, doctors performed an operation to open up his spinal passage, according to

"Blake was in the final year of a three-year, $17.5-million contract with a $6-million option for next season," said. "Instead, the team will pay him a $1.25 million buyout."