Radiculopathy Treatment Options for Those Living with Pinched Nerve Pain
University Hospitals offers a comprehensive range of advanced spinal radiculopathy treatment techniques so patients with this condition can find pain relief and improved quality of life. Radiculopathy is a condition of compressed nerves in the spine that can cause pain and numbness. At UH, we have innovative treatment options through clinical trials that offer therapies which are not widely available elsewhere.
If you are facing a pinched nerve or more advanced radiculopathy, back pain relief is possible. UH spine specialists are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating this sometimes complex condition. They will work with a broad multidisciplinary care team across our system to find the best treatment plan based on your specific care needs.
Types of Radiculopathy
A nerve root is a nerve that leaves the spinal cord to branch out to other parts of the body. When a nerve root becomes pinched or irritated, a condition known as radiculopathy arises. In most cases, radiculopathy is caused by the following degenerative conditions that result from wear and tear on the spine:
- Herniated disc: Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when one or more of the soft pads between the spinal bones rupture.
- Sciatica: Pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve to the back of your thigh and into your leg is referred to as sciatica.
- Spinal stenosis: A narrowing of the spaces within your spine is called spinal stenosis.
There are three types of radiculopathy that can lead to symptoms that range from mild to severe. The three types of radiculopathy include:
- Cervical radiculopathy: This type of radiculopathy causes pressure on the nerve roots in your neck and may lead to weakness or a loss of feeling in your shoulder, arm, hand or fingers.
- Thoracic radiculopathy: Thoracic radiculopathy occurs when there is a pinched nerve in the upper part of your back. It is a rare condition that causes chest pain and may be mistaken for shingles.
- Lumbar radiculopathy: Pressure on one of the nerve roots in your lower back is referred to as lumbar radiculopathy. It can lead to sciatica.
Broad Range of Techniques to Relieve Radiculopathy Pain
The majority of patients suffering from radiculopathy improve with conservative treatments such as:
- Activity modifications: Any activities that aggravate your radiculopathy pain should be eliminated or limited.
- Immobilization: A splint, brace, or neck collar may be suggested to immobilize the affected area.
- Injections: Nerve root injections and epidural steroid injections can effectively reduce nerve root inflammation and treat pain.
- Medications: Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, oral corticosteroids and prescription opioids may assist in pain reduction.
- Physical therapy: Through physical therapy, you can learn how to strengthen and stretch the area of pain.
- Weight loss: Weight loss may be recommended to reduce pressure on the painful area.
In the event radiculopathy doesn’t improve after about 12 weeks of conservative treatments, surgery may be a viable treatment option to relieve the pressure on the nerve – which is the cause of pain. Our spine surgeons are experts in the following surgical procedures:
- Discectomy: During a minimally invasive discectomy, bone spurs or part of a herniated disc will be removed by fusing or removing a section of your vertebrae.
- Laminectomy: A laminectomy removes the lamina or the back part of the vertebra that covers your spinal canal. This procedure enlarges your spinal canal to relieve pressure.
Access to Clinical Trials and Innovative Treatments
University Hospitals spine specialists are focused on exploring novel treatments for radiculopathy and other neuromuscular diseases. With UH clinical trials, our patients receive access to a variety of innovative treatments that can effectively improve the pain and discomfort of radiculopathy. Our spine specialists will determine if you are a good candidate for clinical trials that may help your individual condition.