Skip to main content

Are Your Painful Symptoms a Sign of Radiculopathy?

Are Your Painful Symptoms a Sign of Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is a relatively common type of pain that happens when a nerve in or near the spine is compressed. Without treatment, radiculopathy can become debilitating, and it can even lead to permanent nerve damage and disability.

Learning to recognize radiculopathy’s symptoms is important for making sure you get treatment right away. In this post, David Berkower, DO, of Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, reviews some of the common symptoms of radiculopathy, so you can get the care you need as quickly as possible. 

The basics of radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a painful condition that happens when a nerve is pinched where it exits your spine. Normally, your nerves leave your spine through small openings before traveling to every other part of your body. If a nerve gets compressed or irritated at or near these openings, it can cause a variety of painful symptoms.

Radiculopathy can happen for different reasons, but some of the most common include:

Sometimes, the cause can’t be determined.

In addition, there are risk factors that could make you more prone to suffering radiculopathy. These include:

People with diabetes may also be at an increased risk of having radiculopathy.

Radiculopathy symptoms

Because radiculopathy involves your nerves, you can have pain anywhere along the nerve pathway, as well as around the root of the affected nerve near your spine. In fact, the word “radiculopathy” comes from the Greek word “radix,” which means root.

The symptoms you have will depend in large part on what part of the spine the compressed or irritated nerve emerges from. The nerve could emerge from the cervical, lumbar, or thoracic regions of the spine.

Cervical radiculopathy

The cervical spine is the uppermost part of your spine, including your neck. Symptoms of cervical radiculopathy include:

Whiplash is one cause of cervical radiculopathy, but it can happen for other reasons, too. 

Lumbar radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy happens in the lower back, and when it involves the long sciatic nerve that travels down each leg, it’s known as sciatica. As many as 5% of Americans have this type of radiculopathy, which tends to become more common during middle age.

If you have lumbar radiculopathy, you may have any of the following symptoms:

Typically, these symptoms involve one leg, but sometimes, both legs can be involved. In severe cases, you may have problems with bladder or bowel control, as well.

Thoracic radiculopathy

Your thoracic spine includes the middle part of your back. Symptoms include:

Because your thoracic spine is not as flexible as the upper or lower parts of your spine, thoracic radiculopathy is not as common as the other two types. It may be confused for other problems, such as gallstones or problems involving your belly or heart.

Treating radiculopathy

Treating radiculopathy begins with an examination to determine the cause of your nerve compression. For very mild symptoms related to temporary causes, such as a day of heavy lifting, for instance, Dr. Berkower may recommend ice and heat therapy combined with activity modification, stretching, and over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain and inflammation.

For more serious nerve compression problems, physical therapy or minimally invasive treatments might provide a better solution. Before recommending treatment, Dr. Berkower prescribes imaging tests to determine the extent of nerve involvement and to map out the best treatment plan to help you find relief.

If you have back or neck pain with or without radiating symptoms, scheduling an evaluation is the first step to feeling better and preventing problems from getting worse. To learn how we can help, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

When Is Tingling a Sign of Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can cause debilitating symptoms, and like other medical conditions, it responds best to early treatment. Tingling is a common symptom you should know about. Here’s when tingling could mean you have peripheral neuropathy.

6 Risk Factors for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is more common than many people realize, and it tends to occur in people with specific risk factors. Read on to learn what those risk factors are, so you can decide if you might need to be evaluated.

How Arthritis Symptoms Affect Your Sleep

A common source of chronic joint pain, most people know that arthritis can make it difficult and painful to perform lots of activities. What’s less commonly known is that arthritis can affect your sleep, too. In this post, learn what to do about it.

The Toll Diabetes Can Take on Your Nerves

Many people know diabetes can affect vision and the kidneys, but what a lot of people don’t know is that it can take a toll on the nerves, too. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help you prevent permanent nerve damage.

Here’s When Nerve Blocks are The Best Treatment Option

Chronic pain can be debilitating, and sometimes, pain medicine and similar therapies aren’t able to provide adequate relief. In cases like these, nerve blocks can be a great solution. Here’s how to tell if they could be right for you.

Is Arthritis Inevitable As I Age?

If you think painful joints are just a natural part of getting older, we’ve got some good news: With proper management, you can reduce or even prevent joint pain with proactive osteoarthritis treatment. Here’s how we can help.