Radiculopathy defines a group of signs caused by the pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column. The pinched nerve can appear in various spinal column areas (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar). Symptoms of radiculopathy vary by place but regularly consist of pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling.
A typical cause of radiculopathy is the narrowing of the space where nerve roots exit the spine. This can be a result of stenosis, bone spurs, disc herniation, or various other problems. Radiculopathy symptoms can usually be treated with nonsurgical therapies. However, minimally invasive surgery can likewise help some clients.
What is Radiculopathy?
Your spine is made of many bones called vertebrae. Also, your spinal cord goes through a canal in the center of these bones. Nerve roots split from the cord and travel in between the vertebrae into other areas of your body.
When these nerve roots get squeezed or damaged, the resulting symptoms are called radiculopathy.
Types of Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy can have various symptoms and also different names relying on where in the back it occurs.
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
When radiculopathy occurs in the lower back, it is known as back radiculopathy. It's also known as sciatica since nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve are usually involved. The lower back is the area most regularly impacted by radiculopathy.
- Cervical Radiculopathy
Cervical radiculopathy describes a compressed nerve root in the neck (cervical spine). Since the nerve roots in this spine area mainly control sensations in your arms and hands, the symptoms are most likely to be felt in this area.
- Thoracic Radiculopathy
Thoracic radiculopathy describes a pressed nerve root in the thoracic spine area, which is your upper back. This is the least common area for radiculopathy to occur. The symptoms often follow a dermatomal distribution. This can cause pain as well as numbness that wraps around to the front of your body.
Symptoms of Radiculopathy
When a nerve root is compressed, it becomes inflamed. This causes several bothersome symptoms that may consist of:
- Sharp pain in the back, arms, legs or shoulders that might get worse with certain activities, even something as simple as coughing or sneezing;
- Weakness or loss of reflexes in arms or legs;
- Skin numbness, "pins and needles," or various other unusual experiences (paresthesia) in the arms or legs.
Your specific signs and symptoms will depend upon exactly where in the spine the nerve root is pinched. Nonetheless, it's also possible that you don't experience any signs or experience regular flare-ups of symptoms.
Causes of Radiculopathy
Radiculopathy is typically caused by changes in the tissues surrounding the nerve roots. These tissues include bones of the spinal vertebrae, tendons, and also intervertebral discs. When these tissues shift or change in size, they may narrow the spaces where the nerve roots travel inside the spine or exit the spinal column.
These openings are called foramina. The narrowing of foramina is known as foraminal constriction. This is similar to back spinal stenosis that affects the spinal cord. Usually, foraminal stenosis is triggered by progressive deterioration of the spinal column that occurs as you age. But it can likewise be an outcome of a back injury. Most common causes include:
- Herniated Discs
One common cause of foraminal stenosis and radiculopathy is a bulging or herniated disc. Spinal discs work as cushions in between your vertebrae. Occasionally, these disks slip out of place or become injured and press on the nerves. This problem is probably to occur in your lower back. However, it can also impact your neck.
- Bone Spurs
One more possible cause of radiculopathy that can trigger the narrowing of foramina is bone spurs. These are areas of extra bone growth. Bone spurs can develop in the spine because of inflammation from osteoarthritis, injury, or other degenerative problems.
- Other Causes
Thickening (ossification) of the spinal ligaments may also result in constricting the room around the nerve roots and subsequent nerve compression. Less common causes for radiculopathy include:
- spinal infections;
- different malignant and noncancerous growth in the spinal column;
- these might press against the nerve origins.
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Radiculopathy and other Diseases
- Radiculopathy and Myelopathy
Sometimes, radiculopathy can be accompanied by myelopathy. Myelopathy is compression of the spine itself. Herniated or bulging discs can seldom press on the spinal cord and the nerve roots. When the spinal cord is involved, the symptoms can be more severe, including:
- bad coordination;
- difficulty strolling;
- Radiculopathy Versus Neuropathy
Radiculopathy symptoms might overlap with those of peripheral neuropathy. This makes it hard to identify the source of trouble. Peripheral neuropathy is the damage of the peripheral nervous system, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It involves trapped nerves in the wrist.
Radiculopathy is the pinching of the nerves at the root. This can occasionally create pain, weakness, and also tingling in the wrist and hand. Get in touch with a doctor for an accurate medical diagnosis.
Your physician may take several steps to identify radiculopathy:
- A physical exam and physical tests may be used to examine your muscle strength and also reflexes. If you have discomfort with specific movements, this might help your medical professional identify the irritated nerve root.
- Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT, or MRI scaN, can be used to see the structures in the issue location.
- Nerve conduction research, in addition to electromyography, can also be used to help identify whether the issue is neurological or muscular.
Radiculopathy can't always be prevented. Being healthy as well as maintaining a healthy and balanced weight might decrease your threat of radiculopathy.
Maintaining a good posture while sitting, playing sports, exercising, or lifting heavy items is likewise crucial for preventing injuries. (add this part later in the blog)
Radiculopathy treatment will depend on the location and the cause of the condition in addition to several various other factors. Nonsurgical treatment is commonly suggested first and might include:
- Medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, opioid medications or muscle depressants, to manage the symptoms;
- Weight loss strategies to reduce pressure on the problem area;
- Physical therapy to reinforce the muscles and also prevent further damage;
- Steroid shots to minimize inflammation as well as eliminate pain.
Some individuals may need more advanced treatment, such as surgical procedures. A surgical procedure is usually used to reduce the stress on the nerve root. Surgery expands the area where the nerve roots leave the spinal column. This may involve removing all or parts of a disc and vertebrae. Cervical posterior foraminotomy is just one of the minimally invasive spine surgical treatment alternatives offered.