RADICULOPATHY

What is it?
Radiculopathy is a term used to describe symptoms and findings of a condition commonly called a “pinched nerve”. These symptoms could include pain radiating or travelling down an arm or leg and may be accompanied by weakness or numbness. This can be an acute or chronic disorder.

How does it occur?
A radiculopathy is caused by either chemical irritation or compression of a nerve root as it leaves the spine. The chemical irritation can be from tears in a disc. The compression of the nerve root can be from a disc, arthritis in the spine or narrowing of the spinal canal, (spinal stenosis).

What are the symptoms?
Radicular symptoms include pain, burning, aching travelling or radiating down the arm or to the shoulder blades, or down a leg or to the buttock. The pain usually follows the course of the nerve or nerves involved. Numbness and weakness may be present.

How is it evaluated?
A physical examination can identify if a radiculopathy is present. X-rays, an MRI or an EMG may be needed to help determine the cause and help determine treatment options.

How is it treated?
Radiculopathies are treated with activity modification, cortisone or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and at times, surgery. Most individuals will respond to conservative treatment.

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