You bent down to pick up something off the floor, and guess what? That shooting pain you felt in your back. It could be a pinched nerve or a condition officially called radiculopathy. Millions of people suffer from pinched nerves, but with ketamine therapy, the pain doesn’t have to rule your life.
What is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is a pinched nerve in the spot where nerves exit the spine. It can affect anyone and be triggered by disc degeneration, disc herniation, or another trauma.
“Radiculopathy describes a range of symptoms produced by the pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column. The pinched nerve can occur at different areas along the spine (cervical, thoracic or lumbar). Symptoms of radiculopathy vary by location but frequently include pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling.”
Types of Radiculopathy
- Cervical radiculopathy happens when a neck nerve is compressed where it exits the spinal cord. You can have shoulder pain, muscle weakness, and numbness from arm to hand.
- Lumbar radiculopathy happens in the lower spine and is linked to sciatica. The lower back is most affected by radiculopathy.
- Thoracic radiculopathy is a pinched nerve in the upper back, triggering symptoms that can go to the front of your body.
Know the Symptoms
Ketamine therapy can often treat many physical pain symptoms caused by radiculopathy and other conditions such as:
- Intense pain in your arms, back, legs, or shoulders that worsens with certain activities.
- Weakness and lack of reflexes in your arms or legs.
- Skin numbness, a “pins and needles” feeling, or another abnormal sensation in your arms or legs.
What are the Risks?
“A herniated disc or spinal stenosis most often causes radiculopathy. Both are degenerative conditions that result from everyday wear-and-tear on the spine.” Any injury or physically intense activity can put you at greater risk of the condition. Still, genetic disorders may predispose you to radiculopathy like neurofibromatosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Age is, without doubt, the biggest risk, and radiculopathy affects an estimated three to five percent of Americans.
Supporting Someone with Radiculopathy
Sometimes, people with radiculopathy opt for non-surgical relief when experiencing the condition. Providing emotional and other support is the best way to show a loved one or someone else that you care, but sharing knowledge is another crucial step in relieving pain. There are many home remedies you can suggest, including:
- Getting as much sleep as possible. Sleep is essential for healing a nerve. The body repairs itself during sleep, so giving it more time to do so may help reduce symptoms quicker. In many cases, resting the affected area and getting extra sleep is enough to allow the pinched nerve to heal on its own.
- Improving your physical posture when standing or sitting. Using cushions, adjustable chairs, and neck rests when sitting may help relieve pressure and allow the nerve to heal.
- If your workplace allows it, see if you can access more ergonomic tools. This means an ergonomic mouse and keyboard for computer use, a monitor placed at the correct height and distance in relation to the keyboard, and perhaps a standing desk or special chair.
- Try stretching and yoga to relieve tension and pressure in the affected region.
- Some people also benefit from massage and physical therapy.
Finally, encourage your loved one or friend to try different therapies and consider newer treatment options. Ketamine might be one form of treatment on that list.
Diagnosis & Treatment
In most cases, radiculopathy can be diagnosed with a thorough medical examination. However, further testing may be necessary to determine the cause of the radiculopathy. Possible tests include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, and computer tomography scans, as well as a computer tomography plus myelogram scan. Seeing your primary medical professional for an initial examination is your best first step. Besides undergoing examination and various tests, you’ll also be expected to describe the pain and possible symptom triggers.
Many kinds of radiculopathy will see the best outcomes from non-surgical measures like medication and physical therapy. Some cases may be improved through ketamine therapy, and surgery is also a possibility.
If you have a pinched nerve that’s affected you for months or longer, and it’s started to impact your quality of life, see a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment options. Depending on your symptoms, you may also consider different kinds of therapy, surgery, or ketamine to reduce pain symptoms.