Lumbar radiculopathy is a painful condition that involves nerve irritation caused by damage to the spinal discs.

Overview and Symptoms

Radiculopathy refers to nerve irritation caused by damage to the disc between the vertebrae. The damage may be caused by degeneration and/or traumatic injury. When nerves are irritated in the low back (lumbar region) from degenerative disc disease, the condition is called lumbar radiculopathy, and it often causes the commonly recognized sciatica pain that shoots down a lower extremity.

Common symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy include:

  • Numbness and tingling in the leg extending to the foot
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Increased nerve pain when moving the lower body
  • Increased nerve pain when coughing or sneezing
  • Bladder/bowel incontinence

Diagnosis and Treatment

Older patients or patients who have recently been in traumatic events such as a car accident are at a higher risk of developing lumbar radiculopathy. Electromyogram (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) testing can detect nerve irritation, while Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans can detect which of the spinal discs has actually ruptured.

Treatment of lumbar radiculopathy ranges from physical therapy to surgery, and is highly dependent on the case of the individual.

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