Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy Specialist
Radiculopathy is a painful spinal condition caused by a trapped nerve in the spine. Nonetheless, it can be successfully treated. Dr. Ray Oshtory is a highly-qualified orthopaedic spine surgeon who specializes in the cervical section of the spine. At the Pacific Heights Spine Center in San Francisco he works with patients on individual treatment plans, with the emphasis on nonsurgical or minimally-invasive techniques leading to rapid results and recovery. The first step to reducing your pain is accurate diagnosis of the problem. Call or request your appointment online without delay.

Radiculopathy Q & A

What is radiculopathy?

As well as giving our skeletons strength and flexibility, our vertebrae act as organizers for our central nervous system. Paired bundles of nerves extend out through holes on either side of each vertebrae and run to specific sections of our bodies. For instance, the nerves extending from the cervical spine (the neck) reach into the upper chest and arms.

Nerves are susceptible to wear and tear at the point where they run through the vertebrae and connect to the spinal cord — known as the nerve root. Radiculopathy occurs when the nerve root becomes damaged, compressed or inflamed. This leads to pain and numbness in the areas supplied by the nerves — the upper chest or arm if the radiculopathy is happening in the cervical spine, for example.

Cervical radiculopathy emanates from the neck and affects the upper body, while lumbar radiculopathy occurs in the lower back and causes symptoms that radiate down the leg.

What causes radiculopathy?

Anything that damages, compresses or inflames the nerve root can cause radiculopathy. This includes ruptured or herniated discs in the spine, any kind of degenerative disease that causes bones to change shape and form spurs, or an injury. As people get older, their discs and spinal joints degenerate and aren’t as effective at protecting the nerve roots as they once were.

What are the main symptoms of radiculopathy?

The main symptoms of radiculopathy are pain and numbness. This might be accompanied by weakness in your muscles, or patches of skin that lose sensitivity. Cervical radiculopathy can lead to pain or tingling going down your arm into your fingers and a lack of motor control or strength, while lumbar radiculopathy causes sciatica down your leg.

It’s important to diagnose and treat radiculopathy, as it can lead to irreversible damage to the nerve roots that results in a permanent loss of sensation or muscle function.

How is radiculopathy treated?

Dr. Oshtory conducts a physical examination, checking your range of motion, muscle function and reflexes. He then performs tests, such as X-rays, an MRI or a CT scan, that can determine exactly where nerve roots may have been damaged. He may also send you for electrical studies of your nerves that can measure your nerve function and assess any potential damage.

Typically, he begins treatment with nonsurgical therapies to manage pain and prevent further stress on the nerves. Often an epidural injection can provide temporary relief.  If required, he might recommend surgery to decompress your spine — and there are now minimally-invasive techniques available to make this process faster and safer than ever before. Each person with radiculopathy is different, so Dr. Oshtory develops a treatment plan unique to your condition and needs.

Typically, he begins treatment with nonsurgical therapies to manage pain and prevent further stress on the nerves. If required, he might recommend surgery to decompress your spine — and there are now minimally-invasive techniques available to make this process faster and safer than ever before. Each person with radiculopathy is different, so Dr. Oshtory develops a treatment plan unique to your condition and needs.

 

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