Radiculopathy is condition that originates near the spine and has referred pain, numbness (paresthesia), sensation changes, and muscle weakness. Radicula means “little roots”. Pathos means “disease”. Radiculopathy means disease or condition of the nerve roots of the spine. Nerve roots are where the individual nerves come out of the spine between every spinal bone (vertebrae). Mechanical compression or touching of the nerves is all that is needed to cause pain and numbness in the hands and feet.
Radiculopathy most commonly occurs in the neck and lower back. Both the neck and lower spine are susceptible to injuries where the spinal nerves can be touched or compressed. The most common way that parts of the spine can come in contact with spinal nerves is from osteophyte formation (bone spurs), or disc injuries. Osteophytes are formed from spinal degeneration and arthritis. When the osteophytes get large enough, then they can touch the spinal nerves and numbness and referred pain soon follow. When there are disc injuries, then part of the disc can become deformed and bulge outward. Disc bulges commonly interfere with the spinal nerve that exits out of the spinal cord and causes radiculopathy. If this condition happens in the neck then it is called cervical radiculopathy. Oftentimes it will cause numbness and pain that is referred to the shoulder, arm, forearm, and individual fingers. If this condition happens in the lumbar spine (lower back spine) that it is called lumbar radiculopathy. Oftentimes it will involve cause numbness and pain that is referred to the hip, thigh, calf, feet, or individual toes.
In many cases, both cervical radiculopathy treatment and lumbar radiculopathy treatment is straightforward and uncomplicated. In a smaller amount of cases, treatments are more difficult and last longer, and there are less options. In general, radiculopathy cases are easier to treat in the beginning. Long-standing radiculopathy is more difficult to treat and may not be fixable.
Please call the office if you have burning, numbness, or referred pain into your upper or lower body in order to have the best chance to fix your condition.