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What is Lumbar Radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy means that you are having pain, tingling, or weakness that is radiating from your low back, even if pain or discomfort is not specifically felt there. This is referred to as radicular pain, or radiculopathy. The same thing can happen in your neck, causing pain to radiate down your arms and into your hand and fingers, called cervical radiculopathy. This article will describe when symptoms are originating and being radiated from your low back, which is lumbar radiculopathy.

A dermatome is an area of the body that specifically corresponds to a certain spinal segment. When you have pain in a certain dermatome, you will be feeling this pain or some other symptom in an area other than the area that is actually causing the problem. When there are symptoms in a dermatomal pattern, it’s a spinal issue.

The L5 (fifth lumbar spinal segment) dermatome is located on the top and side of your big toe, so if you are experiencing symptoms in your big toe, pain or otherwise, that can be a sign that your pain is originating from the lumbar spine. Provided you didn’t just experience a traumatic injury to the toe itself. Your doctor will be able to determine this by testing strength and weakness of all dermatomes in the leg. For every part of the leg, sensation and strength can be tested that correspond to a specific spinal segment and allows doctors to pinpoint that area of the spine that may be involved.

The spinal cord is encased within a stack of bones called the vertebral column. At every level of the bones down your spine, the spinal cord shoots off some nerves. Nerves control everything – pain, numbness, tingling, weakness. And, nerves are all connected so what happens at low back can cause strange symptoms (not always pain) to occur in the legs, feet, and toes. These symptoms may occur anywhere all the way down the length of the nerve.

Causes of Lumbar Radiculopathy

The root cause of Lumbar Radiculopathy is a rupture of bulge of a disc in the spine. This displaced or deformed substance of the disc puts pressure on a nerve. A bulging or ruptured disc can occur for many reasons such as:

  • Poor posture
  • Incorrect body mechanics when lifting
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Other traumatic accidents
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Lumbar Radiculopathy Symptoms

The symptoms of Lumbar Radiculopathy will be completely unique to each individual. It does not always have to be pain that you are experiencing. Pain is not a requirement, it may or may not be there. Other symptoms include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • A throbbing sensation
  • Sensations similar to water running down your leg
If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.

Remember, symptoms can appear at any area of your leg when radicular symptoms are present. Also, these symptoms may come and go, and not be present all the time

Lumbar Radiculopathy Treatment

Treatment for Lumbar Radiculopathy depends on the severity of the root cause of the problem that is originating in your spine. A conservative approach will almost always be attempted first before surgical intervention is considered. This conservative approach will generally consist of a course of physical therapy. In physical therapy, you will learn specific directional movements to help reduce the disc in your back and prevent and stop it from placing pressure on nerves. You will also go through strengthening exercises as well as range of motion activities to restore any functional movement that you may have lost. Also, you will be taught about proper posture and body mechanics so as to prevent the likelihood of this happening again. If physical therapy fails to decrease the radicular symptoms, surgical intervention such as a discectomy may be necessary.

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Disclaimer: Please note all medical information contained within this website should never be interpreted as a diagnosis or recommendation of treatment. If a diagnosis is needed, contact Dr. Burke Orthopedics for a personalized consultation. Information shared in testimonials and reviews are specific to that particular patient and may not be representative of the experience of others.