June 14, 2024

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

Radiculopathy – What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Back Pain?

2 min read

Radiculopathy is a medical term used to describe certain problems originating in the spinal area, at the location of the nerve roots. The main symptom of lumbar radiculopathy is the back pain, which may also radiate to other areas. In the condition, the nerves whose roots are affected do not function as normal, meaning that it is a form of neuropathy. A few related conditions also include: sciatica, piriformis syndrome, and cauda quina syndrome.

Causes include inflamed or pinched nerve roots. These can be brought on by a variety of underlying medical conditions. For instance, bone spurs can grow along the spine and affect the nerves. In spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal may lead to compression (therefore pressure) on the nerves. A herniated disc can also bring this condition due to the middle of the spine pushing into a nerve.

As previous mentioned, the primary radiculopathy symptom is generally the related pain in the back. This pain can also be in other locations, such as the legs. In cervical radiculopathy (in the neck) the arms may be affected. Numbness, tingling, and pins-and-needles sensations can sometimes occur as symptoms. The name of these common symptoms of radiculopathy is sciatica. Additionally, hypersensitivity may be felt.

Diagnosis methods for radiculopathy can vary, although a full physical examination and/or X-ray tests may be used. The simple presence of back pain does not necessarily point to radiculopathy (nerve root irritation or compression). Treatment methods may be different in one case to the next: physical therapy, medication, and surgery are a few possibilities. The “root” cause and condition of the patient, as well as other factors, may lead to different treatment options.

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