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What You Should Know About Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy Overview

  • Radiculopathy is a painful condition that is caused by compression of a trapped nerve.
  • Symptoms of radiculopathy include sharp pain in the arms or legs that may worsen with activity, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
  • Risk factors for radiculopathy include having a job that requires heavy lifting, a history of injury to the spine, and having a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Radiculopathy can sometimes be managed with non-surgical treatments. However, if these don’t work, then surgery may be needed. Fortunately, there are many non- invasive surgical options for radiculopathy.

Radiculopathy is a common spinal issue that can be painful and debilitating for those who experience it. The condition is caused by the compression or irritation of a nerve that has become trapped at its root. Those who experience radiculopathy often suffer from the sensation of a persistent "pinched nerve."

Unfortunately, radiculopathy is not something that can be remedied by simply waiting things out. Allowing symptoms to go unchecked can lead to an advanced state of radiculopathy that can ultimately lead to serious pain issues, mobility issues and permanent nerve damage. The good news is that it is possible for the majority of people suffering from radiculopathy to remedy the situation with proper treatments. There are several treatment routes to discuss that allow patients to get relief using minimally invasive procedures.

First, let's cover some of the symptoms and risk factors associated with radiculopathy to get a good picture of what this diagnosis means from the perspective of a radiculopathy surgeon in Los Angeles.

Types of Radiculopathy

There are different types of radiculopathy that can affect a person, depending on where the compression in the spine occurs.

  • Cervical radiculopathy. This type of radiculopathy refers to a compressed nerve root in the neck. This is the most common type of radiculopathy.
  • Thoracic radiculopathy. Thoracic radiculopathy refers to a condition where the nerve pain experienced is felt in the middle portion of the spine. This occurs when the nerve root is compressed in the thoracic area of the spine, or upper back.
  • Lumbar radiculopathy. The condition is referred to as lumbar radiculopathy when the pain originates in the lower back.

What Are the Symptoms of Radiculopathy?

Pain is the most common symptom experienced by people who have developed radiculopathy. However, the symptoms rarely stop there. It is also quite common to experience numbness, tingling or weakness at the spot of the compressed or irritated nerve.

Just remember that it's always important to have a proper evaluation done by a doctor to rule out other causes of pain before settling on a radiculopathy diagnosis.

Why Do Some People Get Radiculopathy?

There's no specific formula for why some people develop radiculopathy. However, it is known that activities that place repetitive or excessive stress on the spine can put a person at much greater risk for developing radiculopathy.

Many people who develop radiculopathy also have labor-intensive jobs that require them to lift heavy objects or make repetitive motions. Certain contact sports and athletic pursuits can also put you at risk for developing radiculopathy. Even factors like living a sedentary lifestyle or having a family history of radiculopathy can increase your odds of developing the condition.

There are also some specific injuries and conditions that are closely linked with developing radiculopathy. Things like bone spurs from osteoarthritis, disc herniation or thickening of the ligaments can also increase one's chances of developing radiculopathy. It's also possible that a tumor or infection could be responsible for the compression of nerves behind painful radiculopathy symptoms. In addition, people who suffer from scoliosis can be at increased risk for radiculopathy because of the way a curvature could contribute to compression at the nerve site. Radiculopathy is also sometimes the result of some type of trauma at the site of the damaged or irritated nerve.

Determining the root cause of radiculopathy isn't always such an obvious process. It's necessary to consult with a spinal or back surgeon to get a full picture of the cause and placement of your radiculopathy to come up with an effective treatment. It's also important to rule out any potentially serious underlying conditions or injuries that could be contributing to radiculopathy symptoms.

What Are Some Treatments for Radiculopathy?

Like all spinal and nerve conditions, radiculopathy is something that's treated on a case-by-case basis. The two main surgical routes to take when seeking treatments for radiculopathy involve removing the tissue that is constricting a nerve root or stabilizing the spine through fusion. Generally, treatments that utilize tissue removal can either involve removing all tissue or widening openings for nerve roots.

It's generally advisable to look for minimally invasive options first when seeking out a radiculopathy surgeon in Los Angeles and Southern California. The surgical option that is most appropriate for you will depend on the location and severity of the affected nerve root.

Microdiscectomy

A popular minimally invasive option is something called a microdiscectomy. Generally, this option is used when it has been determined that a herniated lumbar disc is responsible for placing pressure on the spinal nerve column. A surgeon removes a portion of an intervertebral disc that is responsible for creating pain, weakness or numbness.

Lumbar Fusion Surgery

Lumbar fusion surgery is another common treatment for radiculopathy. This procedure is designed to halt motion at the portion of the spine that is generating pain. The stoppage of motion is achieved by fusing two or more vertebra.

Artificial Disc Replacement

Artificial disc replacement is sometimes recommended for patients suffering from radiculopathy. This is a procedure where a device is implanted into the spine to recreate the functions of a normal disc after a person has experienced a loss of function or motion. Lastly, cervical fusion surgery is a more invasive option that is appropriate for people suffering from radiculopathy that affects the neck. During a cervical fusion procedure, two adjacent vertebrae within the cervical spine are fused together.

Being Proactive About Radiculopathy Treatments

Getting a radiculopathy diagnosis is the first step to achieving freedom from very limiting and frustrating symptoms that can impact the quality of life. At Sierra Neuroscience Institute, we understand just how frustrating it can be to live with pain, tingling, numbness, and other symptoms on a daily basis. That's why we're so focused on offering cutting-edge surgical treatments for radiculopathy. Our team of surgeons collaborates with patients seeking radiculopathy surgery in Los Angeles and Southern California to create personalized treatment routes that get to the root of the problem.

Many of the surgical options we offer at our facility are designed to facilitate quick healing and recovery to allow our patients to return to their lives as quickly as possible with minimal side effects. Please book a consultation with us today if you're looking for a radiculopathy surgeon in Los Angeles!

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