What is radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is a condition due to a compressed nerve in the spine that can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the course of the nerve. Radiculopathy can occur in any part of the spine, but it is most common in the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy) and in the neck (cervical radiculopathy). Radiculopathy can be due to mechanical compression of the nerve by a disc herniation, a bone spur (osteophytes) from osteoarthritis, or from thickening of surrounding ligaments.
How do I know I have radiculopathy?
The most common symptoms of radiculopathy are pain, numbness and tingling in the arms or legs. Lumbar radiculopathy that causes pain that radiates down a lower extremity is commonly referred to as sciatica.
How are radiculopathies diagnosed and treated?
The diagnosis of radiculopathy begins with a medical history and physical examination by a physician. The patient may then be asked to obtain imaging studies (MRI or CT) to look for a source of the radiculopathy. In some cases, the doctor may order a nerve conduction or electromyography (EMG), which looks at the electrical activity along the nerve to determine if there is damage to the nerve.
Most people can obtain good relief of their symptoms with conservative treatment, including anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and avoiding activity that strains the neck or back. If patients do not improve with the treatments listed above, they may benefit from an epidural steroid injection. These treatments can help to rapidly reduce the inflammation and irritation of the nerve and help reduce the symptoms of radiculopathy.
In some cases, the symptoms continue despite all of the above treatment options. If this occurs and the symptoms are severe, a spinal cord stimulator or surgery may be an option. The goal of spinal cord stimulation is to decrease the nerve pain signals that go to the legs or arms by changing the pain sensation to a small non-painful tingling sensation. Midtown Neurology is fully equipped to perform the above procedures and is happy to assist you should you have these symptoms.
Midtown Neurology P.C.
Aashish Bharara, MD is a Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician with a fellowship in interventional spine management