Your spine is a conglomeration of 33 vertebrae that protect your spinal cord. Your spinal cord runs through the center of your vertebrae and uses them for protection from injury. Your spinal cord is home to nerve roots that are extended throughout your body. When one of these nerve roots are pinched or damaged a person can experience pain in different areas around the body. This irritation of a nerve root is called Radiculopathy. This article will talk about the causes of Radiculopathy and how non-opioid treatment can help to relieve the symptoms of Radiculopathy.
There are a wide variety of reasons that someone might experience Radiculopathy. One main cause of Radiculopathy is from a herniated disc. There are discs in between your vertebrae that keep them from rubbing together. These discs can occasionally slip out of their place or become damaged, pinching a nerve and causing pain. Another common cause of Radiculopathy is bone spurs. Bone spurs are extra pieces of bone that protrude from existing bone sometimes causing pain and irritation. Bone spurs can develop all around the bodyincluding the spine. Bone spurs in the spine can rub or pinch nerves that run through the spinal cord causing Radiculopathy. Some individuals may not know they have bone spurs unless they are seen in an X-ray. Bone spurs usually occur with people who suffer from Osteoarthritis or other degenerative bone conditions.
Other factors that can cause Radiculopathy:
- Compression Fractures
- Poor Posture
- Improper Form While Lifting
Types of Radiculopathy
Although Radiculopathy has to deal with the pinching and irritation of nerves in the spinal cord, there are different categories that separate Radiculopathy into diagnosable segments. The different categories of Radiculopathy are characterized by where the patient is experiencing pain. Lumbar Radiculopathy occurs in the lower back and legs of the patient. Lumbar Radiculopathy is also called Sciatica because of the sciatic nerve that is located in the lower half of the body. Patients may experience pain in their hips, legs, buttocks, calves, or feet with Lumbar Radiculopathy.
Cervical Radiculopathy is considered to be nerve pain in the upper region of the body. Places like the shoulders, neck, arms, or upper back can be considered Cervical Radiculopathy. Thoracic Radiculopathy is an uncommon form of Radiculopathy and can be misdiagnosed as heart disease. Thoracic Radiculopathy occurs in the mid-section of patients and can affect areas like the middle of the back, chest, or torso regions of the body.
Radiculopathy can be treated in multiple ways, depending on the severity of the symptoms. In extreme cases, Radiculopathy can be treated with opioid medication or anti-inflammatory drugs. A recommended treatment approach to Radiculopathy is through physical therapy or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. In rare cases, surgical procedures can be performed to widen the space between discs or remove bone spurs from the affected area.