What is Radiculopathy?


Radiculopathy is a term that refers to chronic injuries that result from the bones of the spinal column (vertebrae), or the cushioning discs between them, impinging on the root of a nerve in the spinal column. The symptoms of radiculopathy may be felt all the way to the tips of fingers or toes, even though the nerve compression occurs at the base of the nerve in the spine. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of motor function, and radiating pain.

Radiculopathy can result from lack of proper blood flow and progressive disease, or from repetitive or stressful physical activities, such as in jobs that involve heavy lifting or repetitive motions. A genetic predisposition and the presence of other spine disorders also increase one’s risk of developing spinal radiculopathy. Degenerative disc disease associated with the normal aging process can also cause this condition. Treatment options for radiculopathy include physical therapy, medication, and relaxation. For patients whose radiculopathy is not relieved by conservative treatment, spinal decompression therapy may be recommended. During this procedure, the portion of a vertebra impinging on the nerve root is trimmed away. This can provide dramatic relief from radiculopathy symptoms. Traditionally, spinal fusion back surgery has been performed in conjunction with spinal decompression to stabilize the spine at the point of the operation. Unfortunately, spinal fusion eliminates the natural independent motion of the fused vertebrae, and may contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. Today there is an alternative: the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Spine) System implant preserves the natural motion of the spine and has been shown in clinical studies around the world to provide better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion. With major medical advances occurring at a rapid pace today, it’s important to be aware of all the latest treatment options for any condition for which you are seeking medical treatment.