Radiculopathy is the term used to describe any mechanical problem or disease that affects the spinal nerve roots. These spinal nerves connect the spinal cord with the rest of the body. Often called a “pinched nerve,” radiculopathy can be caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, an injury to the spine or osteoarthritis. It may involve any part of the spine, but it is most frequently found in the neck (cervical region) or lower back (lumbar region). Those considered at the highest risk are older individuals and younger people who play contact sports or perform manual labor.
Conservative treatments are always the first options considered for radiculopathy. Physical therapy can help to strengthen the muscles in the problem area, maximize flexibility through stretching exercises, and remove pressure from the injured nerve roots.
Certain medications that can help as well. Anti-inflammatories and oral corticosteroids can reduce pain and swelling. Steroid injections in the spine are also used to decrease swelling thereby allowing for healing to take place. In severe cases where pain does not respond, stronger prescription pain medications may be incorporated into the care plan.