Radiculopathy (Arm, Neck, Back, Leg)
Radiculopathy is the compression or pinching of a spinal column nerve root.
Signs and symptoms
Radiculopathy symptoms depend on the severity and location of the nerve root compression. No symptoms can be present, or only occur during flare-ups. Lumbar radiculopathy, also known as sciatica, occurs in the lower spine. Thoracic radiculopathy occurs in the middle of the back. Cervical radiculopathy occurs in the neck. Common symptoms include:
- Sharp pain in the back, legs, arms, or shoulders
- Worsens with movement
- Weakness or difficulty with reflexes in the legs or arms
- Numbness and other unusual sensations in the skin of the legs or arms
There are different treatment options depending on the severity of your symptoms:
- Physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections. These are used to inject a steroid and a local anesthetic into the space around your spine to help decrease inflammation and swelling, typically leading to improvement in pain in your neck, arms, back and legs. This procedure is performed in either the office or surgery center setting and typically takes just a few minutes. Most procedures involve a needle that is advanced to the target area using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance. A small amount of x-ray contrast will be injected to confirm accurate placement. Once the needle has been properly placed, a combination of a local anesthetic and/or injectable steroid will be placed into the targeted area.
- Minimally invasive discectomy. This surgery will remove the disc protrusion. A small tube is placed through the muscles of the back overlying the spine, then the opening is gently enlarged. A small piece of bone is removed, allowing access to the affected nerve. The nerve is moved and the ruptured disc is removed. Because the area is small, a microscope is used during the procedure.
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