What is Radiculopathy?
Within the body, several sensitive nerves branch away from the spinal column through foraminal canals before travelling to peripheral regions of the body. These nerves relay sensory information to and from the central nervous system and enable us to interact with the world around us. Sometimes, however, nerves can begin to operate ineffectively or improperly relay information because they are being compressed and damaged as they exit the spine. The medical term for this painful condition is known as “radiculopathy.”
When radiculopathy is experienced, one or more nerves becomes diseased or aggravated as the result of abnormal pressure, which generally develops in or near the foraminal canals. Nerves can become irritated or pinched in any section of the spine, but radiculopathy is most frequently seen in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions of the back. These two regions are most susceptible to injury because the lower back bears much of the upper body’s weight and because the upper spine is sensitive and almost constantly in motion. Radiculopathy can usually be treated through a combination of conservative methods, although surgery may be recommended in extreme cases.
There is a diverse array of causes for radiculopathy, usually discovered in conjunction with an injury or other spinal condition. Some of the most common factors that may contribute to nerve compression include:
- Frequent, improper movements, including those that might occur in heavy lifting, highly physical or manual labor and contact sports
- Degenerative, age-related diseases
- Genetic predisposition, congenital spine difficulties or a family history of radiculopathy
- Overly thickened ligaments
- Other spinal conditions, such as scoliosis, bone spurs and disc herniation
- Other health issues, including diabetes, tumors and infection
- Inflammation or displaced materials that may result from a sudden injury like a traumatic fall, motor vehicle accident or sports incident
All of these elements may also narrow the foraminal canals, leading to restricted nerves and debilitating symptoms. To care for your spine and the nerves that surround it, avoid activities that overly strain the backbone and seek prompt, professional medical attention if an issue is suspected. During a consultation with Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our renowned spine specialists can help you identify risk factors and the best preventative measures for your unique lifestyle and daily routine. Schedule a meeting today if you are concerned about radiculopathy or any other problematic spinal condition.
Symptoms of this condition are often shared with the other, underlying issues causing the radiculopathy to occur in the first place. Contact Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® for a radiculopathy evaluation if you notice any of the following:
- Pain, numbness and tingling in the back, arms or legs
- Sciatica (discomfort that radiates through the lower back and limbs)
- A hypersensitivity to light touch and tenderness in the region in question
- Weakness in the affected area and associated extremities
- An inability to perform everyday activities or movements
Because any of the nerves leaving the spinal canal may suffer from radiculopathy, symptoms vary widely depending on the location of the affected region. If you are unsure where your pain is stemming from, we offer advanced pain-mapping procedures to pinpoint the precise site of your hurting nerve.
If you or a loved one encounter incontinence of the bladder or bowels in tandem with back pain, call 911 immediately. These symptoms are indicators of a life-threatening ailment known as “cauda equina syndrome”.
Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach
The pain of a pinched nerve can rapidly affect your quality of life and prevent you from fully participating in the activities you love. However, at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our team of spine specialists regularly helps patients obtain optimal healing from radiculopathy and related problems. From diagnosis to treatment, we are committed to providing personalized attention and innovative treatments that exceed your expectations.
Taking the first step toward relief is as simple as scheduling a consultation at our state-of-the-art-facilities. During this appointment, one of our spine experts will carefully and compassionately evaluate your medical history, physical state and symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis of radiculopathy, imaging tests like a C.T. scan, MRI or X-ray may be requested, as well as a pain-mapping procedure. Once the location and severity of your compressed nerve has been ascertained, we will work with you to design a treatment plan that meets your unique needs and goals.
Whenever possible, we encourage patients to consider conservative, non-invasive treatment options before resorting to surgical intervention. Some of the non-surgical methods of care commonly implemented to treat radiculopathy include:
- Physical Therapy and Specialized Exercises: Oftentimes, physical therapists are able to strengthen the spine and reduce pressure on certain nerves by guiding the body through therapeutic movements.
- Pain-Relieving and Anti-Inflammatory Medication: When used temporarily, certain medications can reduce the amount of pain experienced by a patient and allow them to take up other treatment modalities, such as physical therapy, without being extremely uncomfortable.
- Injections: Localized injections can sometimes eliminate a patient’s pain for as long as 6 months at a time, often allowing compressed nerves to recover and thus reducing the need for surgery.
- Limited activity for a set period of time
- Heating and cooling treatments to maximize blood flow and the transmission of nutrients
- Spinal decompression therapy
Typically, radiculopathy will clear up when conservative treatment methods are dedicatedly employed. In severe cases, however, minimally invasive surgery may be needed to obtain full pain relief. Our expert spine surgeons can oftentimes treat radiculopathy with a posterolateral lumbar fusion or other advanced minimally invasive technique.
Because we offer some of the most state-of-the-art surgical options available, patients realize many benefits when compared to traditional open surgery. Some of these benefits include:
- Tiny incisions
- Less blood loss and scarring
- Minimal trauma to surrounding muscles and tissue
- Quicker recovery times that allow patients to return to work, school and other daily activities sooner
- Faster pain relief
All of the procedures offered at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® are highly customizable, which allows us to use the surgical approach that best fits your case of radiculopathy.
To learn more about radiculopathy or Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, please fill out the form on this page or call us directly at 972-255-5588. We look forward to helping you regain your well-being, so you can enjoy life without fear of radiculopathy!