Radiculopathy is a disease of your spinal nerve roots. Your spine is comprised of 33 bones joined in a complex network of cartilage, muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues.
Anything that causes your intervertebral discs to place pressure on your nerve roots can cause radiculopathy. Examples include:
- Spinal stenosis
- A herniated disc
- Bone spurs
- Compression fractures
- Degenerative disc disease
Radiculopathy is most common in men and women 30-50 and can affect any of the five regions of your back.
Because each region of your back contains nerves that travel to different parts of your body, your symptoms can vary depending on where the pinched nerve root is.
If you have cervical radiculopathy, the problem is in your upper neck. Symptoms can include pain in your arms, neck, shoulder, and upper back.
If you have lumbar radiculopathy, the nerve compression is in your lower back. Symptoms can include pain in your lower back, hips, legs, buttocks, and feet.
No matter where your radiculopathy starts, these symptoms can occur:
- Sharp pain upon sitting
- Changes in your reflexes
- Numbness in your feet, legs, or back
- Pain that grows worse when you move your head and neck
- Pain that worsens after a prolonged period of sitting
It’s important to seek treatment as soon as you notice symptoms of nerve damage. Left untreated, radiculopathy can worsen.
The first step in diagnosing nerve pain is a discussion of your symptoms and health history. Your provider will complete physical and neurological exams and check your reflexes and muscle strength.
X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans can also help determine the source of your symptoms. Nerve conduction studies are also a diagnostic tool that can sometimes help detect radiculopathy.
Lifestyle factors can increase your risk of radiculopathy. If you’re overweight or obese, have poor posture, work in a job that requires repetitive motions, or engage in improper weightlifting habits, you can find yourself suffering from nerve pain. It’s important to share all aspects of your lifestyle with your practitioner during your exam.
If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms of radiculopathy, don’t hesitate to schedule a diagnostic exam at Spinal Diagnostics. Booking your exam is as simple as a phone call or using the online scheduling tool.