Radiculopathy: How Do I Know If I Have it?

If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t give your back much thought until you started experiencing pain. Unfortunately, back aches and pains are some of the most common medical complaints. In fact, 8 in 10 people can expect to have back pain at some point in their lives. But, even though it’s common, not all back pain is created equal — especially when it involves a pinched nerve. That’s where our team can help.

At Metro Pain and Vein Centers, our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating pain conditions. When it comes to back problems, here are a few signs that can indicate you have radiculopathy from a pinched nerve.

The anatomy of the spine

The spine is a complex structure containing vertebrae, discs, your spinal cord, and nerve roots. Together, they each play a crucial role in your back’s health.

Vertebrae

There are 24 bones that form your cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spinal column, and connect to your sacrum and coccyx, which all work together to create structure and support for your body and nervous system.

Discs

Your spinal discs sit in between your vertebrae like shock absorbers.

Spinal cord

Starting at the base of your brain and ending near your sacrum, this area is a vital part of your central nervous system.

Nerve roots

Your nerve roots branch off your spinal cord between each of your vertebrae, branching out all over your body to form your peripheral nervous system.

Signs of radiculopathy

When one of your nerve roots becomes pinched or damaged by nearby tissue, you develop radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a general description for issues caused by a pinched nerve. Two common causes of radiculopathy include a herniated (bulging) disc and bone spurs. 

As nearby tissue presses on a nerve root and disrupts nerve function and blood flow, you can experience a variety of symptoms. These signs vary, depending on the affected nerve, but might include:

While anyone can develop radiculopathy, certain factors can increase your chances of this type of back pain, like being overweight, sedentary, and practicing poor posture. Some conditions can also cause radiculopathy, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treating radiculopathy

Fortunately, we can get your symptoms under control and decrease your chances of permanent nerve damage. After identifying the specific cause of your radiculopathy, we might recommend a variety of treatments, such as:

In some cases, physical therapy can also provide significant relief for a pinched nerve by improving range of motion, strengthening muscles, and relieving inflammation.

If you have back pain that seems to involve a pinched nerve, contact one of our offices in Clifton, Middletown, Riverdale, Edison, and Jersey City, New Jersey, and Staten Island and Ardsley, New York, by calling or requesting an appointment online today.

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