Radiculopathy occurs when a spinal nerve is compressed or inflamed. As a result of radiculopathy, one or more of the nerves in the body are affected and do not function properly (a neuropathy). Radiculopathy of the lower back is a condition caused by compression or pinching of the spinal nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, and weakness.
It can also cause hand-and-finger pain. Cervical radiculopathy results from nerve irritation in the neck. The pain in your arm may be greater than the pain in your neck. Possibly you will also feel numb or pins and needles. It is possible for the hand or arm to feel weak. It is rarely associated with severe diseases, despite being extremely painful. Radiculopathy, also known as a pinched nerve or a pinched nerve root, occurs when nerve roots are injured or damaged as they leave the spine. Disc degeneration, disc herniation, or trauma can result in this condition.
If Radiculopathy occurs in a different part of the spine, it may have different symptoms and names. Here are the common types of radiculopathy:
Often involves nerve roots that are part of the sciatic nerve, lumbar radiculopathy is also known as sciatica when it occurs in the lower back. Lumbar radiculopathy usually affects the lower back.
Compressed nerve roots (cervical spine) are associated with cervical radiculopathy. This region of the spine is most likely to cause symptoms as the nerve roots control sensations in the arms and hands.
Radiculopathy of the thoracic region is characterized by a compressed nerve root in your upper back. Radiculopathy of the thoracic region is not as common as radiculopathy of the leg. It is common to experience pain and numbness that wrap around your body, following a dermatomal distribution.
Nerve roots become inflamed when they are compressed. Aside from causing discomfort, this can also cause several unpleasant symptoms.
The presence of symptoms may not always be seen, or you may experience periodic flare-ups.
Aging is often accompanied by radiculopathy. As we age, the discs in our spine degenerate and bulge. As the discs dry out, they become stiff.
By creating bone spurs, the body strengthens the discs as a result of these changes. Unfortunately, the nerve root exit is narrowed, resulting in its pinching.
Common causes of radiculopathy include:
In order to diagnose radiculopathy, a thorough physical examination and medical history are necessary. If you are experiencing symptoms in one of these areas, your doctor will examine your neck, shoulders, arms, and hands.
Your doctor will check:
Other diagnostic tests your doctor may recommend include:
In some cases, advanced treatments are required, such as surgery. As a result of surgery, a large space between the nerve roots and the spine can be opened up, reducing pressure on the nerve root. Disks and/or vertebrae may be removed entirely or in parts. There are several minimally invasive ways to perform spinal surgery, including cervical posterior foraminotomy.
How long does it take for radiculopathy to go away?
If you have radiculopathy, the rate at which you heal can depend on a number of factors, such as the severity of your symptoms, the treatment you receive, and your overall health. Patients with radiculopathy are usually able to achieve relief within 6 – 12 weeks of undergoing treatment. Many patients see a marked improvement within a few days after treatment, and their results continue to improve throughout the following months and years.
At the very earliest indication of radiculopathy, it can be extremely beneficial to seek diagnostic and therapeutic treatment. Radiculopathy can become permanent the longer it is left untreated. A radiculopathy that is not treated within a reasonable period of time can lead to paralysis. Radiculopathy is extremely rare, but it is still important to diagnose it and treat it as soon as possible to minimize complications and restore the patient’s comfort.
A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve may include pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area. These symptoms may worsen with certain movements or positions.
A pinched nerve can be caused by a variety of factors such as injury, repetitive motions, poor posture, obesity, arthritis, or disc herniation.
A pinched nerve is usually diagnosed through a physical examination, medical history, and diagnostic tests such as nerve conduction studies or electromyography (EMG).
Treatment options for a pinched nerve may include rest, physical therapy, medication, or in severe cases, surgery.
The healing time for a pinched nerve depends on the severity of the injury and the individual's overall health. Mild cases may heal within a few days to a few weeks, while more severe cases may take several months.