Before we dive into how do you relieve lumbar radiculopathy pain, first, let us take a glance at what lumbar radiculopathy is? In simple terms, lumbar radiculopathy refers to the pain that is caused due to a compressed nerve in your spine. Lumbar radiculopathy can occur in any part of your spine, but it is most commonly found in either the lower part of your spine or your neck. This can result in pain in your lower back or pain in the neck.
Medically speaking, it is a nerve irritation that arises due to some damage between the discs in your vertebrae. This disc damage that we are referring to can have many causes, and we will look at some of those causes and other factors that contribute to lumbar radiculopathy.
Causes of Disc Damage
Before we get into lumbar radiculopathy, let us look at what causes the damage between the discs in your vertebrae, leading to this numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back. This disc damage can be caused due to degeneration, i.e., wear and tear around the outer ring of your vertebrae’s disc, and traumatic injuries. Once your body is exposed to degeneration or a traumatic injury, the soft portion of the disc gets ruptured out of the outer ring and your spine. As a result, people often experience pain termed “sciatica,” which extends to their legs.
Causes of Lumbar radiculopathy
Now that we know what causes disc damage let’s see the factors that contribute to lumbar radiculopathy. Generally speaking, lumbar radiculopathy is caused by some inflammation, compression, or an injury in the lower part of your back. This pain results from nerve damage, and it is usually the nerve root in which the damage occurs. Here are some common causes of lumbar radicular pain:
- Injuries in nerve roots in the spinal cord
- If you have had a spinal injury in the past, the scar tissue could be causing damage to your nerve root, thus leading to lumbar radiculopathy.
- Nerve compression and herniated disc. This is one of the most common reasons behind lumbar radiculopathy.
- Foraminal stenosis. This stenosis is more commonly found in adult patients. Foraminal stenosis is more commonly found in people who have arthritis or bone spurs. In this condition, the hole that acts as a point of exit for the spinal nerve becomes narrow.
Symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy
As mentioned above, sciatica is one of the most common symptoms of this kind of pain. For people who have lumbar radiculopathy, the pain is usually centered in the lower back and legs. In comparison to the pain in the lower back, the leg pain is worse. The part of your leg that suffers the most because of this depends on which nerve in your lower back has been affected. For instance, if the higher lumbar nerve roots are involved, the pain will be more focused on your shin and the front part of your thigh. In general, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the lower back are lumbar radiculopathy’s main symptoms.
Treatment for Lumbar Radicular Pain
For patients going through lumbar radiculopathy, the treatment options consist of both surgical and non-surgical methods. Surgical methods like decompressive surgery act as a last resort when the non-surgical techniques fail. Non-surgical procedures, on the other hand, last for over six to eight weeks and include patient education, pain relief, and muscle spasm through medications, cortisone injections, physical therapy, massages, ultrasound, and resting.