What is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve, is a condition in which injured or damaged intervertebral discs cause nerves to become compressed and irritated in the spine. The spine is a bone structure that supports our bodies and contains staked vertebrae cushioned by soft tissue called discs, preventing friction. Our spine is separated into five different sections: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacrum, and coccyx.
There are three types of radiculopathy: thoracic, cervical, and lumbar. While overall uncomfortable, symptoms will depend on the kind of radiculopathy you have and will vary from mild to severe and can be felt in different body sections:
- Thoracic radiculopathy: Thoracic radiculopathy refers to a compressed nerve in the midback area that causes discomfort in the chest and torso sections. People report muscle weakness and pain in the neck, arms, and shoulders.
- Cervical radiculopathy: Cervical radiculopathy occurs when pressure is placed on the nerves near the neck, resulting in muscle weakness and pain in the shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Lumbar radiculopathy: Lumbar radiculopathy is a pinched nerve in the lower region of the spine, causing sharp back pains, tingling in the legs and feet, muscle weakness, and hypersensitivity. It may also cause bowel and bladder issues.
Causes of Radiculopathy
Some of the leading aggravating factors of radiculopathy are age, excessive weight, family history, and poor working conditions, which force individuals to make repetitive motions or lift heavy objects on a regular basis. Specific injuries and illnesses can also cause radiculopathy to develop. Some of those conditions include but are not limited to:
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- Traumatic injuries
- Bone spurs
Radiculopathy Diagnosis & Treatment
A thorough physical examination and exhaustive analysis of family and medical history, along with reported symptoms, are essential to diagnose radiculopathy accurately. Additionally, your physician may also recommend other tests such as blood work, MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, and electrical impulse testing. Once diagnosed, and depending on the type of radiculopathy, the following treatments may be recommended:
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter medications
- Non-steroidal prescription drugs
- Oral corticosteroids
- Epidural steroid injections
- Piriformis blocks
- Transforaminal epidural steroid injections
- Spinal cord stimulation
Regardless of the form of radiculopathy you are experiencing, we recommend contacting our seasoned pain management specialist today to discuss the best treatment options for your specific condition. There is no need to suffer alone.