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Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy produces symptoms that vary according to the location of your irritated or compressed nerve tissue. Radiculopathy pain may be progressive, meaning it worsens with time. Common symptoms include:

Symptoms
Radiculopathy produces symptoms that vary according to the location of your irritated or compressed nerve tissue. Radiculopathy pain may be progressive, meaning it worsens with time. Common symptoms include:

Common symptoms of Radiculopathy include:

  • In the lumbar spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. If impingement affects one of the roots of your sciatic nerve, you can develop sciatica, which is characterized by localized or radiating pain, numbness, or other uncomfortable sensations in the lower body
  • In the cervical spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head
  • In the thoracic spine (less common): pain, tingling, or numbness in the upper or mid back, radiating through the stomach or chest, which patients often confuse for cardiovascular problems

Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your radiculopathy, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may be in order.

Causes
Radiculopathy has several typical immediate causes, as well as a range of underlying causes. 

Additional common Radiculopathy causes include:

  • A herniated disc in your spinal column is the most likely cause of radiculopathy. When a disc herniates, it leaks material from its inner core into the surrounding area of your spine, where it may press upon a nerve root.
  • Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spaces in your spinal column that provide passage for your spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, and spinal nerves. This narrowing can cause radiculopathy when nerve tissues do not have enough room to pass smoothly through the surrounding bony structures. The most likely place for spinal stenosis to occur is the foramina – the small holes that let nerves pass out of the spinal column.
  • Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting.
  • Direct physical injury such as a car accident or fall.
  • Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents.

Treatment
North American Spine partner physicians have the broadest range of minimally invasive solutions for your back or neck pain. Depending on the location and severity of your pain, your treatment will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Decompression: Minimally invasive decompression surgery aims to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. This pressure can be caused by many conditions. Using a surgical laser, if necessary, soft tissue will be removed and pressure on nerves will be relieved. For more on decompression, see Decompression.
  • Stabilization/Fusion: Minimally invasive stabilization/fusion surgery aims to restore spinal stability lost to collapsed discs. Diseased material is removed and stability is regained by fusing vertebrae or replacing diseased material with specialized hardware. For more on stabilization, see Stablization
  • Injections: Injections aim to reduce inflammation, block pain, and/or aid in the regeneration of healthy nerve passages. These procedures often are not permanent solutions, but they may be repeated when pain returns. They are extremely quick procedures with virtually no recovery time.
  • Other Procedures: North American Spine partner physicians may suggest other types of procedures, including the placement of a Spinal Cord Stimulator, an implanted device that blocks the pain signals created by a variety of conditions. For more on our other procedures, see Other Procedures.

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