What is Radiculopathy?
When nerve roots become pinched or damaged, the resulting symptoms are called radiculopathy. One form of radiculopathy is called sciatica where a portion of the sciatic nerve is compressed. Radiculopathy can have different symptoms and different names depending on where in the spine it occurs.
When radiculopathy occurs in the lower back, it is known as lumbar radiculopathy, also referred to as sciatica because nerve roots that make up the sciatic nerve are often involved. The lower back is the area most frequently affected by radiculopathy.
Cervical radiculopathy describes a compressed nerve root in the neck (cervical spine). Because the nerve roots in this area of the spine primarily control sensations in your arms and hands, this is where the symptoms are most likely to occur.
Treatments for Radiculopathy
Although the pain associated with radiculopathy can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative treatments in a few weeks. It is advisable to treat radiculopathy as early as possible in order to avoid the progression of symptoms. Radiculopathy treatment may include both nonsurgical and surgical methods. Typically, conservative nonsurgical methods are tried first such as a combination of physical therapy, medications, therapeutic injections, and alternative therapies. Surgery may be indicated when the underlying cause is severe and/or progressive neurological deficits such as leg weakness occurs and progress is not being made with more conservative therapies.
A number of surgical approaches are available to relieve various sources of nerve root compression or irritation, such as: