Your spine is made of many bones called vertebrae. Your spinal cord runs downward through a canal in the center of these bones. Nerve roots branch off the cord and go between the individual vertebrae. When problems affect these nerve roots, the condition is called radiculopathy. One cause of radiculopathy is a herniated disk. Soft disks act as cushions between your vertebrae. On occasion, these disks slip out of place or become damaged and press on nerves. This is sometimes called a pinched nerve or a slipped disk. This problem is most likely to occur in your lower back, also called the lumbar area. When the pain radiates down the back of the leg to the calf or foot, it would in lay terms be described as sciatica. This type of pain is often deep and steady, and can usually be reproduced with certain activities and positions, such as sitting or walking. Compression of higher lumbar nerve roots such as L2, L3 and L4 can cause radicular pain into the front of the thigh and the shin.Thoracic radiculopathy occurs when there are pinched nerves in the middle portion of the spine. This causes pain in the chest and torso. It is uncommon and can be mistaken for shingles.
Back Radiculopathy Symptoms
- A sharp pain in the back that may travel all the way to your foot, pain may become worse with certain activities like sitting or coughing
- Numbness of the skin in areas of the leg or foot
- Weakness in the leg
- Pain in the chest and torso, if thoracic radiculopathy is present
- Loss of reflexes
Causes and Risk Factors
- As people age, it's common to have changes in the disks and vertebrae that could affect the nerves and cause radiculopathy
- Many people ages 50 and older have damaged disks and pinched nerves and do not have symptoms.
- Bone spurs can also cause radiculopathy. This is when extra bone forms around a disk after it weakens or collapses.
- Poor posture or stress from repetitive activities can also cause compression.
- Pain, numbness or weakness may increase to the point that you can't perform your usual daily activities.
- In rare cases loss of bowel and bladder function
- In very rare cases permanent spinal cord injures and paralysis
- Staying physically fit may reduce the risk of back radiculopathy
- Using good posture at work and in your leisure time, such as sitting at a desk correctly or lifting heavy objects.
- If you sit at work for long periods, consider getting up and walking around regularly.
Things to do at home
- In some circumstances Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Losing weight, with diet and exercise
- Braces can help to restart movements that can cause pain and encourage rest of the affected area.
How we treat Back Radiculopathy
We use the following approaches to treat Back Radiculopathy.
- ASTR® Tools: Our doctors use a variety of ASTR® tools to release scar tissue and myofascial restriction, which can decrease mobility and flexibility.
- Special exercise program to decrease pain, strengthen the muscles, stabilize and help the patient to return to normal function and activities.
- Special instructions on how to speed up the recovery time.
- Cold Laser Therapy: Tissue inflammation is common with back radiculopathy. Cold laser is used in order to decrease inflammation that causes pressure on the affected area.
- PEMF treatment which utilizes a form of electromagnetic therapy that stimulates cellular repair and recharges the body’s cells to optimize its performance. This treatment is especially recommended for back radiculopathy. You can expect immediate results in as little as ten minutes in most cases.