What is radiculopathy (trapped nerve)?
Radiculopathy is a condition in which one or more nerves in the vertebrae are compressed or “pinched” leading to impaired movement or sensation.
Radiculopathy can occur at any level of the spinal column:
- Lumbar radiculopathy: This is the most common radiculopathy, due to the fact that the lumbar region is subjected to the most rotation and strain in everyday life. Displacement of an intervertebral disc towards the outside of the spinal column. This displacement compresses or “pinches” the nerves running along the spinal cord. Sciatica is caused by a compressed nerve.
- Cervical radiculopathy: Cervical pain is sometimes caused by a lesion near the root of the spinal nerve, a nerve of the spinal cord. A lesion at the root of the nerve is sometimes called a “pinched nerve”.
- Dorsal radiculopathy: Dorsal radiculopathy is not usually as common or as painful as cervical or lumbar radiculopathy. It occurs more frequently in the upper dorsal region.
Lumbar radiculopathy is the most common, due to the fact that the lumbar region is subjected to the most rotation and strain in everyday life.
Symptoms of radiculopathy
Symptoms are well-defined and vary according to how compression occurs. The patient will first notice pain, which left untreated will gradually increase over time, possibly limiting the function of muscles and limbs. The most common symptoms are:
- Tingling sensation in the legs
- Muscle spasms
- Numbing or weakness of the affected areas.
A clear manifestation of lumbar radiculopathy is joint cracking. If the lesion occurs in the dorsal region, the patient feels a sharp back pain when breathing in.
What are the causes of radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy occurs when a nerve root in the spinal column is compressed. There are several possible causes:
- Overexertion: lifting a load and hearing a “crackle” almost immediately. This is one of the most common causes.
- Maintaining poor posture for long periods of time while working.
- Traumatic injury. If it persists for a while and causes discomfort, over time it may cause disc herniation.
Can it be prevented?
One of the best ways to prevent radiculopathy is to maintain a good posture. You should significantly reduce the loads you lift and always bear in mind that the back is the axis of your body, hence you should make harmonious movements and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
What is the treatment?
The diagnosis must be established before treatment is begun. It is highly probable that the optimal treatment for you will consist of a combination of painkillers and physiotherapy sessions. In lumbar radiculopathy, magnetic field therapy using lumbar corsets may be effective. In cervical radiculopathy, a neck brace may be used to alleviate the pressure on the vertebrae.