Do you think you might be experiencing Radiculopathy and you’re wondering what’s involved in the treatment?
In this blog we discuss radiculopathy treatment in greater detail, along with symptoms and potential causes of the condition.
What is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy, commonly referred to as a pinched nerve, is a set of neurological conditions that occur when nerve roots in the spine are impaired, as they’re compressed, injured or irritated.
This condition can occur in any location along the spine. However, the most common spots are at the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine.
The location of symptoms is dependent upon which nerve root is affected along the spinal cord.
Radiculopathy can be caused by numerous factors including,
- Disc pathologies (herniation/prolapse),
- Bone spurs,
- Acute trauma, and
What Is Cervical Radiculopathy?
Cervical radiculopathy impacts nerve roots in the cervical spine (neck).
It usually involves localised pain in the neck and can commonly have referred pain into the shoulder or even down the length of the entire arm to the fingertips.
Cervical Radiculopathy Symptoms
The symptoms of cervical radiculopathy vary from person to person, but can include:
- Pins & needles,
- Loss of sensation or numbness
- Or a deep dull ache.
Regardless of the primary cause, there is a resultant irritation of the nerve root which can send pain or altered sensations down the pathway of the nerve affected.
The areas of your arm that can be affected will depend on the level of the nerve root affected.
The diagram below shows common pathways where you can experience pain and the corresponding cervical vertebrae.
What Is Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Similar to the neck/cervical spine these types of injuries also occur in the lumbar spine (lower back).
Lumbar Radiculopathycan be caused by:
- Disc or nerve root pathology,
- Acute trauma,
- Arthritis, and
- Bone spurs.
The distribution or pathway your symptoms follow is dependent on the lumbar vertebrae level and corresponding nerve root that is being irritated. Commonly, this is down the back of your leg and towards the outside of your foot.
Below, you’ll see a diagram which illustrates a disc herniation and how it can impact the nerve of the spinal level affected.
Disc related pathologies that cause these symptoms take, on average, 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on age, injury background, rest, etc.
Radiculopathy Treatment: What YOU can do:
The first step to begin your treatment is to see a qualified health professional for a diagnosis.
If they’ve determined that your symptoms may be linked to radiculopathy, there are a number of steps you can take to help treat the condition.
- Relative rest
- Like with any injury, particularly in the early or acute stages, it is important to give your neck/back a rest. We suggest trying to maintain as much activity as you can while making small modifications to movements that bring on your pain or sensation down your arm or leg.
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
- Have a discussion with your GP about the use of NSAIDs and how they can help to reduce the inflammation and therefore compression of the nerve root. This can also reduce your symptoms and possibly aid in a quicker recovery.
Radiculopathy Treatment: How can Inline Physio help you?
- Step 1 – Examination: Firstly, our experienced team will carry out a thorough examination, taking everything into account including pain and symptoms you describe, investigation of vertebral joints and neural pathways.
- Step 2 – Diagnosis: A diagnosis can be reached once this examination has been completed.
- Step 3 –Treatment Plan: Following this, a trained physiotherapist can provide evidenced-based manual therapy focusing on neural mobilisations. We may also prescribe safe at-home neural “gliders”, which have been proven to provide significant improvements in pain and function.
Are you experiencing any pain and you’d like a professional opinion and treatment plan? The qualified team at Inline Physio is ready to help!
Physiotherapist & Exercise Physiologist