Radiculopathy (Arm, Neck, Back, Leg)

Radiculopathy is the compression or pinching of a spinal column nerve root.

What’s in this section?

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


Diagnosis of radiculopathy starts with a physical exam and medical history. Other procedures and tests may be needed to diagnose this condition, including x-rays , computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), myelogram or electromyogram .

Treatment options

There are different treatment options depending on the severity of your symptoms:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • 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 discectomyThis 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.

Request an appointment online and we will guide you through the next steps.