Your spine not only supplies support and mobility for your body, it’s also the main conduit for your nervous system. When a nerve along your spinal column becomes compressed or pinched, it can lead to a group of symptoms that we categorize under radiculopathy.
To help you determine whether your symptoms stem from a compressed nerve along your spine, the team here at Texas Spine Consultants, which includes Michael Hennessy, MD, Robert Viere, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, pulled together a brief description of the four most common signs of radiculopathy.
Before we discuss the more common symptoms of radiculopathy, let’s take a closer look at the problem. The average human body contains 46 miles of nerves and they all link back to the brain through the spinal column.
This means that a problem in one of the many nerve roots that branch out from your spine can not only lead to symptoms in the immediate area, but it may affect the length of the nerve, causing symptoms in seemingly unrelated areas.
For example, a herniated disc in your lumbar spine, or lower back, may press up against your sciatic nerve, causing symptoms that follow the length of the nerve down one side of your lower extremities (buttcks, legs, and feet).
The same holds true for a pinched nerve in your cervical spine, or neck, which can lead to symptoms that radiate through your shoulder and down your arm.
Now that we better understand how radiculopathy can involve some or all of the nerve that’s compressed, let's take a look at the symptoms.
This symptom is the most obvious and it’s one that’s hard to ignore. The pain can be local — only in the immediate area where the nerve is pinched — or it may travel the length of the nerve, causing arm pain or leg pain.
The pain may only occur with certain movements or it may be a constant companion, depending upon the degree of the nerve compression.
If you’re experiencing strange sensations in one of your limbs or appendages (arms/hands, legs/feet), such as numbness or tingling, this may stem from a pinched nerve in your spine. The sensations are also described as pins and needles and are medically known as paresthesia.
If you develop weakness in one of your arms or legs, this may be due to a pinched nerve in your neck or lower back, respectively.
Along with weakness, radiculopathy can also include a loss of reflexes. Perhaps you may not feel as nimble on your feet, or your arms seem to have lost their ability to make involuntary movements (pulling away from a flame).
No matter what form your radiculopathy takes, the good news is that we can help restore sensation and function (and relieve the discomfort).
Depending upon your unique situation, we offer everything from physical therapy and injections to minimally invasive surgical procedures that relieve the pressure on your nerves.
To learn more about resolving your radiculopathy or to schedule an appointment, contact one of our two locations in Plano or Addison, Texas.