What is Radiculopathy?

RadiculopathyRadiculopathy is a chronic injury of the spinal nerve roots caused by prolonged nerve irritation or compression. As the nerves are pinched or compressed by debris or spinal conditions like spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, and spinal instabilities such as spondylolisthesis or scoliosis, there is less blood flow to the nerves which can lead to permanent nerve damage. Thus, early diagnosis and treatments are essential to restore normal root function.

Radiculopathy Symptoms

Medically speaking, radiculopathy is a term used to describe symptoms that are caused by nerves that are not working properly and can often be treated through an array of spine procedures that are low risk and have a short recovery time. Symptoms include numbness and tingling or a burning sensation that may begin slowly and build over time. As the condition progresses muscles may weaken and atrophy.

How is Radiculopathy Diagnosed?

Debris that pinches or compresses nerves is the primary cause of radiculopathy. A number of spinal conditions such as spinal stenosis, a ruptured disc, spondylolisthesis, or scoliosis can also cause radiculopathy. A few other common radiculopathy causes are disc herniations, bone spurs  and thickening of surrounding ligaments.

The less common causes of cervical radiculopathy include tumors and infections. Like the causes above, either of these can reduce the amount of space in the spine and compress the exiting nerve. Additionally, diabetes may also increase the risk of radiculopathy.
The main causes of radiculopathy tend to vary among different age groups. Older people, for example, are far more prone to degenerative changes, whereas younger people are more likely to experience ruptured discs.

Radiculopathy Treatment Options

At the Spine Centers of America, we work off of a “patient first” platform. We want to correctly diagnose your condition and then treat it accordingly. Whether that includes non-surgical or surgical treatment, you can be certain that our board certified physicians and staff are committed to giving you the best medical advice and treatment available.


There are many different treatments and therapies that can be used and most patients respond to conservative treatments. The most effective include physical therapy, rest, oral pain and anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants.


If sufficient results are not met with conservative treatments, an endoscopic discectomy or endoscopic foraminotomy may be some options for you.  A discectomy is used if the source is caused by a disc tear, disc bulge or herniated disc, while a foraminotomy is used to treat nerve pain due to degenerative changes in the spine, such as spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or failed surgery syndrome. Both are minimally invasive procedures that are low risk and have a short recovery time.
However, because it involves the spine, it is strongly recommended that a board certified laser spine surgeon perform the procedure. Every physician at our comprehensive spine center is a board certified spinal surgeon.

If you need more information about this or other conditions, feel free to visit our spine educational videos page or contact us to to speak with a spine specialist.