Some people with physically demanding jobs complain with good reason about pain in their arm, back, legs, and elsewhere – often believing the discomfort is simply a matter of grueling work. That could be the cause, but other symptoms like numbness could indicate the presence of a pinched nerve or radiculopathy.
What Is Radiculopathy?
“Commonly referred to as a pinched nerve, radiculopathy is injury or damage to nerve roots in the area where they leave the spine. This condition can affect anyone and can be the result of disc degeneration, disc herniation, or other trauma.” It’s widespread, affecting more than three million people in the United States, with symptoms often subsiding within a few months. However, symptoms that linger can also be treated with options like ketamine therapy.
Know The Symptoms
Compressed nerves can get inflamed, leading to:
- Sharp back, arm, leg, or shoulder pain which may worsen with activities as innocuous as coughing or sneezing
- Weakness or lack of reflexes in your arms or legs
- Numbness of the skin or other abnormal sensations in your arms or legs
Symptoms will depend on the location of the nerve root in the spine where it’s been pinched. However, there could be zero symptoms or a sudden flare-up.
What Are The Types Of Radiculopathy?
There are three kinds of radiculopathy that your doctor may talk about depending on your symptoms, including:
- Cervical radiculopathy happens when a nerve in your neck gets hurt at the place where it exits the spinal cord. This can lead to pain in the shoulders and muscle numbness and weakness that moves down the arm into your hand.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower region of the spine associated with sciatica pain, you may be suffering from lumbar radiculopathy. Which part of your body most often experiences this kind of pain? Your lower back is the most widespread area harmed by radiculopathy.
- Thoracic radiculopathy is characterized by a pinched nerve that happens in the upper echelons of your back, triggering symptoms like tingling, pain, and numbness that can wrap around the front of your body.
People aged 45 to 64 years old most often experience radiculopathy.
What Is Radiculopathy?
Here are some other things to know about radiculopathy:
- Radiculopathy defines a variety of symptoms formed by the squeezing of a nerve root in your spinal column.
- The pinched nerve may happen at different spots along your spine (cervical, thoracic, or lumbar).
- Signs of radiculopathy differ by location but regularly include pain, fragility, numbness, and tingling.
- A frequent cause of radiculopathy is tapering of the spot where nerve roots exit your spine, which can happen because of bone spurs, stenosis, disc herniation, or something else.
- Symptoms can often be handled with nonsurgical procedures, but marginally invasive surgery can also benefit some people.
What is known to cause radiculopathy?
- One possible cause of radiculopathy, which may lead to foramina narrowing, is bone spurs — areas of additional bone growth. Bone spurs can develop in the spine because of inflammation from osteoarthritis, trauma, or another degenerative condition.
- Herniated discs. A bulging or herniated disc is one widespread reason for radiculopathy and foraminal stenosis. Spinal discs function as soft cushions between your vertebrae. Occasionally, these discs can slide out of place or get damaged and push on nerves. This problem most frequently occurs in your lower back, but it may also hurt your neck.
Thickening (aka ossification) of the spinal tendons may also cause space narrowing circling the nerve roots, and consequent nerve compression. Less conventional reasons for radiculopathy include spinal infections and numerous cancerous and noncancerous tumors “in the spine which can press against the nerve roots.”
Diagnosis & Treatment
Your medical professional may use different methods to diagnose radiculopathy, including x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography of the spine, or an electromyogram. An examination typically focuses on the neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. The medical professional will also look for numbness or loss of feeling, muscle reflexes, muscle strength, and posture. Your medical history will be recorded during the examination, and your healthcare provider will ask for details about any blood relatives with the same condition.
Non-surgical treatment can include ketamine, rest, physical therapy, non-prescription pain medicine, and steroid injections. In some rare cases, surgery may be needed.
Certain pain can be self-diagnosed, like a stubbed toe or even something like a pinched nerve. If you suffer from a condition known as radiculopathy, you may know the cause of the pain, but what about treatment options? Ask your medical professional for information and if ketamine is right for you.