How to Recognize Radiculopathy

Your nervous system controls your senses, movement, and organ function. There are many different kinds of nerves — the two main neural systems are the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

Your spinal cord is part of your central nervous system, and it connects your brain to the rest of your body. It’s a bundle of nerves inside the bony vertebrae that make up your spine. Sometimes, vertebrae can shift or tissue can get inflamed, putting pressure on the spinal cord nerves and causing pain.

Radiculopathy is the medical term for a pinched nerve. It’s a common condition that occurs when a nerve is compressed by the tissue surrounding it. Radiculopathy can develop in any part of your back, and it can cause pain, numbness, and tingling wherever the nerve travels in your body.

At Capital Brain and Spine in Austin, Texas, Desh Sahni, MD is an expert in spinal health and he regularly diagnoses and treats radiculopathy in his patients. Read on to learn more about the signs of radiculopathy.

Common causes of pinched nerves

A nerve can get pinched when it’s compressed by surrounding tissue, including bone or cartilage. In the spine, nerves can get pinched when a spinal disc slips out of place. A herniated or bulging disc often presses against the spinal cord and may cause pain in the back or elsewhere along the nerves’ path.

Some other causes of pinched nerves might be:

If you suffer a pinched nerve, pain may appear immediately or show up more slowly. While radiculopathy pain is common in the back, pain can also appear in the arms, legs, feet, or hands, depending on the nerve that is pinched. Sometimes, radiculopathy pain is worse at night.

Some people are at increased risk for radiculopathy. These risk factors include being female, being overweight, having rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, or growing older.  

Signs you have a pinched nerve

The back has three main regions. The cervical region is the top of the spine, which supports the head. The thoracic region is the middle part of the spine, and it supports the ribs. The lumbar region resides in the lower back. It’s possible to get a pinched nerve in any of these spinal regions.

Common symptoms of radiculopathy include:

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your back or your limbs, you may have a pinched nerve. Resting your back can help reduce inflammation and minimize pain caused by pinched nerves. In some cases, radiculopathy doesn’t require medical intervention.

But if your pain and other symptoms don’t subside within a few days, visit Dr. Sahni and our team for treatment. Dr. Sahni diagnoses radiculopathy with a number of tests that may include and MRI, ultrasound, or EMG. Symptoms of a pinched nerve can improve with physical therapy, medications, and, in more severe cases, surgery. 

Don’t ignore your symptoms. Learn to recognize the signs of radiculopathy and find a treatment that works for you. Call us at 512-361-1165 or book an appointment online today.

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