Radiculopathy

WHAT IS RADICULOPATHY?

patient with radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a condition that describes a range of symptoms produced by the pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column, commonly caused by the narrowing of the space where the nerve roots are located within the spine. This narrowing can occur anywhere along the spine and can be caused by a number of conditions, including stenosis, bone spurs, and disc herniation.

Cervical Radiculopathy

Neck pain from an injury or irritation to a nerve’s root in the neck as it exits from the vertebrae may radiate down the arm toward the right or left hand. Known as cervical radiculopathy, the condition could be caused by a narrow spinal canal or stenosis, or from a disc that is displaced and compressing the nerve. The intensity of pain varies dramatically, from a dull non-localized ache to a precise sharp and burning sensation.

 

Symptoms

  • Pain in neck, arms, or hands
  • Numbness
  • Weakness

 

Why it hurts:

  • Pain from the nerve can radiate through the shoulder, arms, and hands. The nerve roots are branches of the spinal cord that carry signals to the rest of the body at each level along the spine. The pain is felt in the muscles, ligaments, joints, and skin served by the affected nerve root. Oftentimes, the chemicals contained within the disc may irritate the nerve.

 

Treatment options

  • Relative rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Pain management
  • Epidural steroid spinal injections
  • Local paraspinal injections

Lumbar Radiculopathy

Pain from an injury or irritation to a nerve’s root as it exits from the vertebrae may radiate down the leg toward the right or left foot. One can feel weakness or numbness in the affected area. Known as lumbar radiculopathy, the condition could be caused by a narrow spinal canal or stenosis, or from a disc that is displaced and compressing the nerve. The intensity of pain varies dramatically, from a dull non-localized ache to a precise sharp and burning sensation.

 

Sciatica is a type of lumbar radiculopathy that affects the large sciatic nerve, where nerve roots come together in the buttock. Sciatica pain is a sharp, often shooting sensation that radiates down from the buttock to the back of the thigh and into the leg. It often feels like a stabbing pain deep in the buttock and grows worse with sitting.

 

Why it hurts:

The nerve roots are branches of the spinal cord that carry signals to the rest of the body at each level along the spine. The pain is felt in the muscles, ligaments, joints, and skin served by the affected nerve root. With sciatica, a common cause is a protruding disc that presses on the sciatic nerve or the roots that make up the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve can also be compressed in the deep muscles of the buttock. Often times, the chemicals contained within the disc may irritate the nerve.

 

Symptoms:

  • Stabbing pain in the buttock (sciatica)
  • Dull non-localized ache
  • Back pain going down one leg
  • Leg cramping
  • Numbness in the leg to the foot
  • Burning pain down the back of the leg
  • Symptoms worsening with sitting, coughing, or sneezing
  • Weakness
  • Tingling

 

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

  • Relative rest for a few weeks
  • Heat or cold to release spasms and reduce pain
  • Stretching exercises
  • Heating modalities, including laser therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment

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Anterior Cervical Fusions

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Dr. John M. Abrahams will be discussing Anterior Cervical Fusions