About your radiculopathy diagnosis

Radiculopathy is a term describing the symptoms — like pain, tingling and numbness — that can result from compression of a spinal nerve root. A radiculopathy diagnosis will also typically involve the diagnosis of a related spine condition that is the source of nerve compression.

Spinal conditions associated with radiculopathy include degenerative disc disease, arthritis of the spine, bulging disc, herniated disc, spinal stenosis and foraminal stenosis. In order for your doctor to reach a correct diagnosis, it’s important to be able to understand and describe the symptoms you experience. Traveling pain and other symptoms associated with a compressed nerve root can occur throughout the body and include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Acute pain
  • Sciatica pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

How doctors diagnose radiculopathy

If you experience these radiculopathy symptoms, it’s important to consult with a physician, like your primary care doctor. While neck or back pain can improve with time, untreated radiculopathy can eventually lead to nerve damage. To determine the source of symptoms your doctor should perform a thorough investigation of your condition, using the following steps to reach a diagnosis:

  • Review of the location, duration and severity of the pain, numbness, tingling or weakness.
  • A physical exam to test for range of motion and muscle strength.
  • Neurological exam including reflex response testing to determine level of sensory or motor function.
  • Use of diagnostic imagery like an X-ray to determine the cause and severity of the condition.
  • More detailed imaging such as an MRI or CT scan may be needed to find the exact location of a compressed nerve root

Treatment options

Upon diagnosing radiculopathy and the related condition, the first step in treatment is usually a course of doctor-prescribed conservative therapies. Exercise, massage, pain medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes can relieve pain and improve mobility enough to regain normal activity. Surgery will often be considered when weeks or months of conservative treatment are attempted without an improvement in symptoms.

If your radiculopathy diagnosis indicates surgery is necessary to remove pressure from spinal nerve tissue, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery can help you find lasting relief from pain. Because our surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine and spare surrounding muscles, our patients experience a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complications like infection compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

When you contact us, we can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.