Radiculopathy

Get the details on radiculopathy.

Radiculopathy

The medical term radiculopathy is a description for several symptoms, where the origin of the problem is near the spine, where the nerve root is located. It is a type of neuropathy, meaning that affected nerves do not work as they normally would. Radix, the Latin word for "root," is used as the first part of this term.

Symptoms

There are various symptoms which can be related to radiculopathy. Included among those are pain, tingling and numbness, difficulty controlling the muscles, and weakness in the legs or arms. Pain is normally the common denominator when considering radiculopathy. One of the ways in which pain can affect a patient is through sciatica. Sometimes, this is referred to as lumbar radiculopathy (the term lumbar is used to designate the abdominal region of the person's torso). The symptom of pain, though, is not restricted to this specific location, but it may show up in different areas, and may also vary in severity and other ways.

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Causes

There are several possible radiculopathy causes. Some issues that may be involved include spinal stenosis, herniated discs (which apply greater pressure to the affected nerves), bone spurs brought on by a degenerated disc, or nerves that are pinched or affected by inflammation (not receiving sufficient blood flow). It is also possible for this situation to be caused by disease that leads to nerve damage.

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Diagnosis

To begin with, radiculopathy is merely a description of medical symptoms, and not thought of as an actual condition. On the other hand, it is still possible for a patient to be given a diagnosis of it by a doctor. As part of the process of working to a diagnosis, the patient usually goes through a complete physical examination. Certain things that might be found during that may incidate that there are potential issues related to the nerve root. Imaging options may also be used during the diagnostic process. For instance, MRI may be used, and a CT scan is also a possibility.


Treatment

Methods of treating radiculopathy may be the most supportive when they take into consideration the medical causes that are behind the situation. In doing this, returning the function of the nerve root to its typical level is also considered. Forms of manipulative treatment, such as chiropractic and osteopathic, may be contemplated as possibilities. Another option that might be used is physical therapy. In some circumstances, medication can be given to try to reduce symptoms such as the pain that the patient feels. Some individuals with radiculopathy also undergo surgery, although in many situations this is if the other treatment methods are not sufficient, or if one of the symptoms is weakness of the muscles.

Associated Conditions

Some conditions are related to radiculopathy, or simply particular forms of it. Here, some of those are considered: cauda equina syndrome (CES), cervical radiculopathy, cervical spondylosis, lower back pain, Lyme disease, neuropathy, paraplegia, piriformis syndrome, sciatica and quadriplegia.

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