Even if you have never heard of the term “radiculopathy,” the pain it causes may be all too familiar. Radiculopathy describes pain and other uncomfortable symptoms that radiate into the limbs, affecting either the arms or the legs. This pain does not actually originate in the afflicted limb though; instead, it is referred to that area by nerves branching out from a pinched (or impinged) spinal nerve root. The impingement on the nerve root may be the result of an acute injury or a progressive condition.
How Do I Know If I Have Radiculopathy?
Until the pinched nerve root causing you pain is relieved, your radiculopathy is likely to grow worse and worse. Fortunately, NJSO offers a wide range of treatments, including surgical options, if necessary.
Radiculopathy may present symptoms either in the upper body or lower body, depending on which nerve roots have been affected. If you have cervical radiculopathy, you may experience odd sensations such as numbness or tingling in your arms and hands. You may also have difficulty performing tasks requiring delicate finger coordination since the nerve compression can affect motor signals as well.
Additionally, your shoulders, arms, hands and neck may show signs of progressive weakness. All of these symptoms may grow noticeably worse when you turn your head from side to side.
Radiculopathy symptoms in the lumbar (lower back) region derive from pinched nerves in the lower spinal column. Sciatica, a condition involving weakness, tingling, loss of sensation or pain in the buttocks, legs and feet, is a common condition resulting from radiculopathy. All symptoms due to radiculopathy, regardless of the area, may come and go, giving a false impression of recovery until the next agonizing experience.
Radiculopathy should not be confused with myelopathy, a condition that produces similar symptoms, but is related to the pinching of the spinal cord as a whole, as in cases of spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal), versus individual nerve roots.
Are you experiencing any of the above symptoms and worry you may have radiculopathy? Try our Condition Check Tool below to identify the source of your pain and diagnosis yourself to begin the process of finding relief.
What is the Right Treatment for Me?
As a general rule, we urge patients to explore conservative treatment options before graduating to surgery for radiculopathy relief. These conservative treatment options may include restrictive or supportive devices, physical therapy, non-surgical spinal adjustments, strengthening exercises and lifestyle changes.
If you do require surgery for severe radiculopathy, at NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we offer minimally invasive alternatives to invasive surgery, such as a microdiscectomy or endoscopic discectomy to remove spinal disc or bone fragments that are pressing against nerve roots, causing your radiculopathy. These endoscopic procedures make a very small, one to two-inch incision to relieve the pain.
For cases of radiculopathy caused by a condition that covers a larger area of the spine, such as spinal stenosis, a laminoforaminotomy may be required. This is also a minimally invasive procedure to provide long-lasting relief of leg and back pain. A traditional laminectomy is used in certain cases, but our doctors at NJ Spine & Orthopedic stand by their philosophy of providing treatment solutions that are as minimally invasive as possible, and will go down the traditional surgery route only if completely necessary.
Radiculopathy can place severe restrictions on your lifestyle unless you take the necessary stops to conquer it once and for all. If conservative treatment methods are not giving you relief and you’re ready to fix the problem, try our Treatment Check Tool to find the right pain solution for you.