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What Is Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy refers to pain caused by a pinched nerve root in the spine. The spine contains a complex network of nerves, which run from the spinal cord to other parts of the body. These nerves relay information from the central nervous system to the extremities (for instance, telling the arm and leg muscles to move). However, they’re also surrounded by bones and tissues. If a nearby structure shifts out of place and compresses a nerve root, it can lead to localized pain and other symptoms that run along the path of the affected nerve. These symptoms are collectively known as radiculopathy.

What causes radiculopathy?

In most cases, radiculopathy occurs as a result of a co-existing condition, such as:

  • A herniated or bulging disc
  • A bone spur
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Scoliosis
  • A spinal tumor
  • A fractured spine

Radiculopathy can develop anywhere in the spine. When it develops in the top part of the spine, it is known as cervical radiculopathy; when it develops in the bottom part of the spine, it is known as lumbar radiculopathy.

Radiculopathy treatment

In most cases, it’s possible to relieve nerve pain through a variety of conservative measures, such as medications, icing, and physical therapy. These are some of the most common treatments that we recommend at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston. In fact, most of our patients are able to manage their symptoms without surgery. Compared to other practitioners, we take a more conservative approach and are less likely to recommend operative treatment. Nationally, more than half of all new patients are sent to surgery, according to a 2017 survey by the American Association of Orthopaedic Executives; at Advanced Orthopaedics, that number is just 27 percent.

If nonsurgical treatments don’t produce meaningful results, however, surgery can be performed to decompress the affected nerve or nerve root. The spine surgeons at Advanced Orthopaedics specialize in minimally invasive procedures, offering these options whenever appropriate for a patient’s unique diagnosis. This approach helps lead to a shorter recovery time and lower complication rate.

If you’d like to learn more about radiculopathy treatment at Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, contact us today. We welcome patients from all throughout the Houston, Texas, area, with three convenient locations to choose from.