Nerves travel from the spine to the brain carrying vital information about the body. Any damage to the part of the nerve exiting the spine can cause excruciating pain. The medical term for injury and damage to the nerve root is a pinched nerve or radiculopathy. Physicians usually recommend conservative treatments to help patients with pinched nerves find relief from their symptoms. However, severe symptoms of nerve compression may necessitate Roswell spine surgery to eliminate any underlying causes of pain and restore wellness to the spine.
What are the types of radiculopathy?
Patients must receive an accurate diagnosis of their symptoms that classifies their nerve compression into a specific type and thus determines the treatment plan a physician develops to restore wellbeing. Identifying the different kinds of radiculopathy depends on the location of the pain. The following are the most common types of radiculopathy patients report:
- Cervical radiculopathy: This condition involves compression of nerves in the neck. In severe cases, the pinched nerve may leave the spinal cord. Patients with cervical radiculopathy experience pain in the shoulders. This type of radiculopathy is another symptom of weakness and numbness radiating to the arms and hands.
- Lumbar radiculopathy: A pinched nerve in the lower parts of the spine is lumbar radiculopathy. This pain affects the sciatic nerve. For this reason, another common term for lumbar radiculopathy is sciatica pain.
- Thoracic radiculopathy: This type of nerve compression occurs in the upper part of the back. Patients with cervical radiculopathy experience pain radiating to the front of their body.
What are the symptoms of radiculopathy?
Understanding the symptoms of a pinched nerve will lead to an early diagnosis and ensure medical intervention to treat the symptoms and reverse any nerve damage. Patients with radiculopathy experience:
- Sharp pain radiating to other body parts
- Decreased motor function
- Weakness and numbness
What causes radiculopathy?
One of the leading causes of radiculopathy is aging. The older you get, the more your spinal discs degenerate. Spinal disc degeneration causes bulging, drying out, and stiffening of these critical spinal parts. Although your body will develop bone spurs to support the discs, this results in a pinched nerve because the nerve root exit narrows. Other common causes of radiculopathy include:
- Herniated discs
How do physicians diagnose radiculopathy?
An accurate diagnosis of radiculopathy involves a thorough examination of the spine. Physicians individualize diagnosis protocol depending on where the patient is experiencing symptoms. For example, examining the shoulders is necessary for a cervical radiculopathy diagnosis if a patient is experiencing pain radiating to the arms and hands.
A thorough physical exam will check for numbness, muscle strength, and reflexes. Your doctor needs to examine your posture to appreciate any lifestyle habits causing your symptoms. Imaging tests like CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays are necessary to evaluate underlying parts of the spine and back to detect any abnormalities that may be causing your symptoms. Contact APEX Spine and Neurosurgery to undergo a diagnosis for your pain to determine if you have a pinched nerve and develop the appropriate treatment plan for recovery.