Radiculopathy is the inflammation or irritation of the spinal nerve roots. It is felt along the surface of the nerve but the sensation varies depending on whether it is sensory or mixed in nature.
Spinal nerve roots are affected by spinal column conditions such as:
Symptoms vary depending on where the condition originates and need to be taken into account during treatment. We will look at the three sections of the spinal column, i.e. the cervical, thoracic and lumbar.
Affects the head, neck, shoulder and arm. When sensory nerves are affected a tingling sensation is felt, as well as pain across the nerve and heightened sensitivity when touching objects. In mixed nerves, muscle weakness and hypotrophy of the muscles innervated by the respective nerve may be observed, along with the abovementioned symptoms. Some frequent localisations of cervical radiculopathy are:
A common symptom typical of this region is sharp pain upon inhalation or shooting pains in the thorax region. Usually only one side is affected. Often when it’s the left side, the patient believes they have a heart condition.
The lumbar spine is affected and symptoms often occur at the backside and the affected leg. There may be a tingling sensation, numbness, muscle weakness and hypotrophy of some muscles or paresis. The most common complaints are:
Diagnosis is made based on various tests and spine scans – X-ray, scanner or MRI.
Treating radiculopathy – it’s always better to start off small. Medication will be used if the pain is very strong and may be combined with physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy aims to reduce the inflammation, improve the mobility of the segment in question and decompress the nerve roots. Exercises and stretching for strengthening the muscles and prevention of future onset are also used .