Radiculopathy Treatment in Houston TX
Radiculopathy is a painful medical condition attributed to nervous dysfunction. Men and women aged between 30 and 60 years usually face the menace of this disorder due to problems in their nerve roots. Those with diabetes, arthritis, or life-style diseases are at the greater risk. Patients with radiculopathy conditions experience pain that gradually radiates to other body parts, weakness, and muscular coordination difficulties.
With the latest advances in the medical field, a variety of treatment and pain management methods are available to inhibit, control, and prevent the disorder from causing agonizing pain and affecting your daily life.
What is radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is caused by tight or uncomfortable compressing of one or more pinched nerves along the spine. When the root of a nerve is squeezed, it results in changes in nerve root to deal with the pressure. As a result those affected feel frequent pain and tingling. Many feel weakness numbness at or near the affected area.
What are the causes of radiculopathy?
The primary cause of radiculopathy is injury to spinal nerve roots following inflammation or squeezing. Such a condition mainly occurs due to stress pressure, ruptured disk, nervous inflammation, excessive bone and muscle pressure, lack of blood flow, or degenerative diseases.
Radiculopathy may occur in any part of your body alongside the spinal cord. When an injury impacts bones or muscles, the nerve tissues bear the burn. This also happens when cartilages or tendons degenerate. Under duress, the pinched nerves change their original position constricting the roots. This results in inflammation and dysfunction of nerves leading to radiculopathy.
Other factors, such as hardening of ligaments, bone spurs, and herniated disc, lead to mechanical compression of nerve roots as they emanate from the spine. Tumors or infections develop under such stress that compresses the nerves further causing radiculopathy.
Disorders, such as scoliosis and diabetes, also result in radiculopathy. Scoliosis constricts nerves along the spine while diabetes reduces flow of blood to them.
What are different types of radiculopathy?
There are three types of radiculopathy that one experiences based on their distinct locations.
- Lumbar Radiculopathy
- Cause: Compression of spinal nerves in sciatic nerve
- Area of impact: Lower back around the lumbar spine
- Common symptoms: Back pain
- Aggravated symptoms: Sciatica, leg pain
- Rare symptoms: Paralysis, sexual disorders, Incontinence
- Cervical Radiculopathy
- Cause: Pinched nerves in the cervical spine
- Area of impact: Neck
- Common symptoms: Pain in the neck and shoulder
- Aggravated symptoms: Pain in the arm
- Rare symptoms: Quadriplegia, muscular coordination disorder
- Thoracic Radiculopathy
- Cause: Squeezing of nerves in the mid-spine
- Area of impact: Chest and torso
- Common symptoms: Pain in the chest, abdominal, and the mid-back portion
- Aggravated symptoms: increase in pain sensitivity, diminished reaction to infection, abnormal skin sensation, unpleasant tingling, and allodynia
- Rare symptoms: Loss of sensation, intestine pain, lower limb pain, Horner’s syndrome, upper extremity radicular pain
What are the symptoms of radiculopathy?
- Initial Stage: Sharp pain, tingling, numbness, weakness
- Aggravated Stage: Radicular pain, hypersensitivity, loss of reflexes, and muscle dysfunction. Pain extends to other body parts, such as from neck to fore arm or lumbar spine to leg.
- Worsened Stage: Paraplegia, quadriplegia, sciatic nerve disorders leading to Piriformis syndrome and Cauda equina syndrome
Who are at the risk of suffering from radiculopathy?
Those with arthritis, osteoarthritis, and diabetes face greater threat of developing radiculopathy. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and trauma are common factors linked to the development of this painful disorder. Those doing heavy labor or playing sports demanding intense hand, wrist, and shoulder movements or pressure on spine are also face the menace. Pregnant women or those living with stress are more susceptible to develop radiculopathy. Many cases the problem is found to be hereditary.
How is radiculopathy diagnosed?
A physical examination is followed by an analysis of patient’s medical history. Doctors identify the exact area, if possible the nerve, by asking condition-related questions. A thorough examination of sensation, extremities, muscle functions, and reflexes is also done to spot abnormalities.
X-ray of the focused area is recommended to ascertain if there is trauma, tumor, infection, or osteoarthritis. An MRI scan of the possible compressed soft tissues and nerves in the pain area is done if required. The electromyogram study is the premier procedure at present to determine whether a nerve is damaged.
What are the treatment methods available for radiculopathy?
- Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
Effective for the initial stage of radiculopathy, it includes lifestyle modification, rest, massage, use of ice or heat, acupuncture, exercise, and physical rehab using medical devices.
- Oral Medication
If physical therapy fails to eliminate the pain, patients are advised non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesic medication, or pain killers.
- Surgical Intervention
When radiculopathy continues to bother despite the above two treatment methods or is linked to bone spurs or disc herniation, surgery is the option. However, it is invasive and involves removal of bones or disc to easy compression of nerves.
- Non-Operative Pain Management
With the development of medical science, many newer techniques are now used to help manage radiculopathy pain without any invasive procedure. It includes,
- Chiropractic care: A slew of new chiropractic methods, including full spine manipulation, are used to treat lumbar, cervical, and thoracic radiculopathy pain.
- Epidural steroidal injection: A steroid injection is administered under expert and fluoroscopic guidance to manage cervical, thoracic, and lumbar pain.
- Epidural non-steroidal injections: New developments also allow use of non-steroidal injections, including stem cell, to control the pain.
- Spinal stimulator therapy: It entails use of a spinal cord stimulator to inhibit pain signals. Low electrical impulses interfere with pain signals and prevent their perception by the brain.
How successful is pain management for radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy pain management is becoming increasingly popular for its non-invasive, low-risk, and high-result assurances. According to the Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research, spinal stimulator therapy may lead to 80% pain relief. Epidural injections are found to be 60% successful in long-term pain relief for cervical radiculopathy.
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