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What Causes Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy: An Overview

The spinal column is made up of 33 bones or vertebrae: 7 in the Cervical region, 12 in the Thoracic region, 5 in the Lumbar region, 5 in the Sacral region, and 4 in the Coccyx region; and the spinal cord is located in a canal in the center of the vertebrae. Nerve roots are attached to the cord and travel between the vertebrae and throughout the body. When trauma or a spinal condition causes these nerves to become inflamed at the root, the result is Radiculopathy. The most common causes of Radiculopathy include disc herniations, bone spurs (from arthritis), scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, and inadequate blood supply to the nerves. Age-related spinal degeneration and inflammation from a trauma can also lead to Radiculopathy.

Symptoms of Radiculopathy and Neuropathy are very similar which is why it is important that a doctor performs a thorough evaluation of your spine to determine the underlying cause of the symptoms associated with each condition. Common symptoms of Radiculopathy include:

  • Sharp pain in the back, arms, legs, or shoulders that may worsen with certain activities
  • Weakness in extremities
  • Hyporeflexia (depressed or absent reflexes)
  • Numbness or Tingling in skin, arms, or legs

The main difference between Peripheral Neuropathy and Radiculopathy is that Peripheral Neuropathy refers to damage or complications associated with the peripheral nerves such as Carpal Tunnel, whereas Radiculopathy refers to the pinching, damage, or inflammation of the nerve at the root.