What is the initial treatment for acute lumbar radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy refers to pain caused by inflammation of one or more nerve roots that extend from the spinal cord, which can affect your sciatic nerve. Most of the time, you’ll experience only temporary symptoms and will heal on your own without any serious treatment.

But, in rare cases, this condition can be so debilitating that you’ll need surgery in order to get better. Here’s what you need to know about the initial treatment options available to you when dealing with acute lumbar radiculopathy.

Oral Medications

The first line of treatment for acute lumbar radiculopathy is, typically, oral medications. These can include over-the-counter pain relievers.

Your doctor may also prescribe stronger pain medications, such as opioids. In some cases, your doctor may recommend steroid medication to help reduce inflammation. Some doctors also prescribe corticosteroids to help reduce inflammation.

Physical Therapy Treatments

Another way to treat acute lumbar radiculopathy is to start with physical therapy. Physical therapy can help to ease the pain and inflammation associated with the condition.

Therapists may use heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and massage to help relieve symptoms. They will also teach you some exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back and legs.

So, if you have acute lumbar radiculopathy and your symptoms have only lasted less than 2 weeks, then physical therapy might be the most effective treatment.


Steroid injections may also be used for acute lumbar radiculopathy. These injections can help relieve pain and inflammation. If you have had no relief after a few days, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection. This type of injection can provide long-term relief.

Weight Loss

Obesity is a risk factor for developing lumbar radiculopathy. So, losing weight can help prevent the condition. In addition, obesity can make the symptoms of radiculopathy worse. So, if you are overweight or obese, shedding some pounds may help ease your pain.


Surgery for acute lumbar radiculopathy is a procedure that relieves symptoms when other treatments have not worked. The goal of this type of surgery is to relieve pain, numbness and tingling in the leg or foot caused by a nerve root injury or compression.

A laminectomy or discectomy may be recommended by your doctor if surgery is needed. In most cases, leg pain will be relieved by the surgery.

A surgery is performed to widen the space between the nerve roots and the spine. It is typically performed to alleviate the pressure on the nerve roots. It may involve the removal of all or a portion of a disc and/or vertebra.


As stated above, the primary objective of treatment would be to reduce the pain experienced by the individual. Thus, the most common option for patients is physical therapy and exercises. For patients that don’t respond, epidural steroid injections are the next step. However, when both of the treatments don’t work, surgery is the last resort to resolve acute lumbar radiculopathy.

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