What is lumbar radiculopathy?


Quick Answer

Lumbar radiculopathy is a disease of the lumbar spinal nerve root. Often called sciatica, it is typically caused by compression of the spinal nerve root, according to Emory Healthcare.

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Full Answer

Lumbar disc herniation, forminal stenosis and other degenerative disorders can cause irritation and compression of the spinal nerve roots. A traumatic event, congenital defect, strenuous activity or injury can damage discs and cause them to leak and squeeze on the nerve roots, states the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy include pain, weakness, numbness in the legs or the buttocks, tingling, and loss of reflexes. These symptoms may be felt in the legs or feet, notes Emory Healthcare. People between the ages of 30 and 50 usually develop these symptoms, and they may occur without warning, adds the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy involves MRIs, CT scans, contrast myelography or electrodiagnosis. A doctor performs a physical examination to determine limitations of spine movement and problems with balance, according to Emory Healthcare. Non-surgical treatments include physical therapy to stabilize the spine, medications to relieve pain symptoms and steroid injections to help reduce swelling. Surgical treatment involves techniques that decompress the spinal nerve, such as lumbar laminectomy or laminotomy.

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