Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar radiculopathy are spinal conditions that occur when nerves in the spine become compressed or irritated, causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the affected area. The specific symptoms and location of the condition depend on which nerves are affected.
Cervical radiculopathy affects the neck area and can cause pain or numbness in the shoulders, arms, or hands. Thoracic radiculopathy affects the middle of the back and can cause pain or numbness in the chest, ribs, or abdomen. Lumbar radiculopathy affects the lower back and can cause pain or numbness in the legs, buttocks, or feet.
Common causes of radiculopathy include herniated discs, bone spurs, spinal stenosis, or degenerative disc disease,”explains Orthopedic Surgeon Rolando Garcia, M.D.
Risk factors for radiculopathy include age, obesity, poor posture, and certain medical conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for radiculopathy typically involves a combination of conservative measures such as physical therapy, pain management, and lifestyle changes (such as exercise and weight loss). In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying condition causing the nerve compression or to relieve pressure on the nerves.
Examples of when surgery may be necessary to correct radiculopathy include:
- Discectomy: If a herniated disc is causing nerve compression, a discectomy may be performed to remove the portion of the disc that is compressing the nerve.
- Laminectomy: If spinal stenosis is causing nerve compression, a laminectomy may be performed to remove the portion of the vertebra that is compressing the nerve.
- Foraminotomy: If bone spurs are causing nerve compression, a foraminotomy may be performed to remove the portion of the vertebra that is compressing the nerve.
It is important to work with a medical professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan based on individual needs and symptoms. In most cases, radiculopathy can be managed with non-surgical treatments, but surgery may be necessary in severe cases.