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What Are the Main Symptoms of Radiculopathy?

If you experience sharp pain in your back, neck, shoulders, arms, or legs, you may suffer from a condition called radiculopathy. Radiculopathy occurs when one of the nerves in your spinal area becomes pinched. The location of the nerve and compression intensity affect where you’ll feel the pain and how intensive it will be.

However, pain isn’t the only radiculopathy symptom. Read on to discover why radiculopathy occurs, how to recognize the most common symptoms, and how to find the right radiculopathy treatment.

What Causes Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is a painful condition caused by an irritated, pinched, or damaged nerve in the spine. It’s usually the nerve root that gets compressed, resulting in a variety of symptoms, including sharp pain. 

Nerves send signals between your central nervous system, which consists of your brain and spinal cord, and other parts of the body. That ensures normal functioning. However, when a nerve gets damaged or pinched, it constantly sends signals to your brain that something’s off, causing you to feel pain.

The most common causes of radiculopathy are herniated discs, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, or injuries. That’s because they cause various disruptions to the spine, affecting the normal alignment and positioning.

Different Radiculopathy Types

Depending on the location of the affected nerve, there are three types of radiculopathy:

  • Lumbar radiculopathy – Occurs in the lower back and is sometimes referred to as sciatica because it usually involves the sciatic nerve. Lumbar radiculopathy is the most common form of this condition.
  • Cervical radiculopathy – Occurs in your neck, also known as the cervical region of the spine. The nerves of this area communicate with your arms, so it’s pretty standard for symptoms to spread to your arms.
  • Thoracic radiculopathy – Develops in the upper back, which is the least expected location for radiculopathy. However, when it occurs, pain and symptoms can spread to the front side of your body.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy can have different symptoms depending on where the damaged nerve is located. That includes:

  • Sharp pain in the back, neck, shoulders, arms, or legs
  • Muscle weakness (typically on one side)
  • Increased pain intensity while exercising and doing certain activities
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in arms and legs

With cervical radiculopathy, you usually feel pain and other symptoms in your neck, but they often radiate towards your arms and hands.

With thoracic radiculopathy, the pain is located in the middle and upper back and often spreads to your chest. People with this condition may feel pain while breathing, which can make them suspect other conditions.

With lumbar radiculopathy, you feel pain and numbness in your lower back. It often radiates through your buttocks and down your legs.

Where to Find the Right Radiculopathy Treatment?

Radiculopathy can usually be managed with a conservative treatment consisting of medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, and ice and heat therapy. At Space City Pain, our experts have experience creating a personalized treatment for each patient with radiculopathy. In addition to mentioned interventions, we also provide counseling and education on lifestyle adjustments such as losing weight, improving posture, stretching, exercising, and reducing pressure on the affected area.

Click here to schedule an appointment with one of our pain specialists, and learn how to manage and overcome radiculopathy symptoms.

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