Tingling in your hands, pain that shoots down one of your legs, loss of grip — these are all symptoms of a condition called radiculopathy. While these symptoms develop in areas that are fairly far from your spine, the underlying cause of the problem typically lies in your neck or lower back.
As spine health experts, the team here at Texas Spine Consultants, including Michael Hennessy, MD, Robert Viere, MD, Andrew Park, MD, Chester Donnally, MD, and Heidi Lee, MD, fully appreciate the wide net that the nerve roots along your spine can cast when they’re compromised and we’re here to help.
Here, we explore both cervical and lumbar radiculopathy and the different ways in which we’re able to relieve your symptoms.
Besides providing foundational support for your entire musculoskeletal structure, your spine is also ground zero for your peripheral nervous system. From your spine, 31 pairs of nerve roots exit your spinal canal and then branch out to almost every square inch of your body, making up your peripheral nervous system.
When these spinal nerves and roots are compromised in any way, you can feel both local symptoms, as well as symptoms that radiate outward, traveling the length of the affected nerve.
While radiculopathy can develop in any one of the 31 pairs of spinal nerves and roots, it most typically occurs in your cervical and lumbar regions, which makes sense given that your neck and lower back enjoy the most movement.
In most cases, radiculopathy develops when a nerve root is compressed or irritated, which can occur when you have spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, bone spurs, arthritis, and, in very rare instances, tumors.
Signs of radiculopathy
The side effects that come from radiculopathy very much depend upon the nerve that’s being compressed and its location. With cervical radiculopathy, people usually experience numbness and tingling in their shoulder, arm, and hand (we use the singular because radiculopathy typically affects only one side of your body).
With lumbar radiculopathy, you may experience a shooting pain down one side of your buttocks and into one leg. As well, you can experience numbness and tingling, in addition to muscle weakness in your lower extremity.
When it comes to treating radiculopathy effectively, we need to first identify the cause. In many cases, the root cause of radiculopathy is degenerative, such as disc disease, arthritis, and stenosis, and our goal is to slow the progression of these conditions while remedying your symptoms at the same time.
In these cases, we typically recommend a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes that might include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss
- Corticosteroid injections
If the nerve compression in your spine doesn’t respond to these conservative measures, you might want to consider a surgical solution in which we fuse your vertebrae to limit movement or we create more space for your nerves.
A good example of this is XLIF® lumbar interbody fusion, a procedure in which we remove a disc and replace it with an implant that features a bone graft. The goal of this procedure is to encourage the two vertebrae to fuse together, preventing movement and subsequent irritation of your spinal nerves.
Whether conservative or surgical, we assure you that we work diligently to find a solution for your radiculopathy that will restore your quality of life.
To explore your treatment options further, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to set up an appointment.