Radiculopathy

Guy R. Fogel, MD, FAAOS -  - Back Surgeon

Spine Pain Be Gone

Guy R. Fogel, MD, FAAOS

Back Surgeon & Spine Surgeon located in San Antonio, TX

Radiculopathy Specialist
Radiculopathy is a common cause of pain in the arms, legs, shoulders, and back. At Spine Pain Be Gone Clinic, Dr. Guy Fogel helps patients from San Antonio, TX, understand the causes of radiculopathy and get the treatment they need for optimal long-term relief of symptoms.

Radiculopathy Q&A

by Guy R. Fogel, MD, FAAOS

What is radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is a condition that occurs when a nerve in the spine becomes pinched or compressed. While it can occur anywhere in the spine, it's more likely to occur in the neck (cervical radiculopathy) or lower back (lumbar radiculopathy). Thoracic radiculopathy in the mid back region is less common since this portion of the back is more stable and less likely to be subjected to the same degree of stress and torsion as the neck and lower back.

What causes radiculopathy?

The most common causes of radiculopathy include:

  • herniated and ruptured discs caused by repetitive strain, overuse injuries, trauma or other factors
  • degenerative disc diseases (more common among older patients) that cause the discs to become compressed
  • other spine diseases like stenosis and arthritis that cause the spaces around the nerves to become narrow

What are the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy?

Cervical radiculopathy occurs in the neck portion of the spine, causing symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers. Symptoms can include:

  • shooting pain or generalized aching
  • weakness
  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • reduction of normal reflexes in the hands
  • difficulty with fine motor movements in the hands or loss of grip strength

What are the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy?

Symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy are similar to those experienced with cervical radiculopathy – pain, weakness, numbness and tingling sensations – except they affect the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

How is radiculopathy diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a physical examination to evaluate the range of motion, strength, reflexes and other factors affected by radiculopathy. Diagnostic imaging tests like x-ray, CT scans or MRIs may also be performed. In some cases, nerve conduction studies may be ordered to pinpoint the specific location of nerve involvement and to confirm the diagnosis of radiculopathy.

How is radiculopathy treated?

Often, radiculopathy will resolve on its own with rest and therapeutic exercise. Oral medication and injections at the site of compression can help relieve pain and swelling to promote symptom resolution. In more severe cases where conservative approaches are not effective in achieving relief, surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure on the nerve.

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