What is lumbar radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy consists of painful traveling symptoms originating in the lower back. The lumbar, or lower, spine refers to the five large, relatively flexible vertebrae that bear much of the body’s weight. Radiculopathy means pain, tingling, numbness and/or weakness that travels, or radiates, along a compressed spinal cord or nerve root.

These symptoms can be extremely debilitating, especially when they persist for more than a few days. If you are dealing with lumbar radiculopathy or think your pain may be related to a lower back condition, educating yourself can be an important step in getting back to a better quality of life.

Lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica

Lumbar radiculopathy includes sciatica, which is the term for radiating symptoms occurring from compression of the sciatic nerve in the lower back. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve fiber that begins within the L1 to 5 vertebrae, runs through the pelvic region into each leg and to the feet. The most common symptom associated with sciatica is severe radiculopathy (or traveling pain) felt through the buttocks, leg and soles of the feet, usually only on one side of the body.

Causes, symptoms and treatment

Spinal conditions that could produce lumbar radiculopathy include:

  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Compression fracture
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Spondylolisthesis

The symptoms associated with lumbar radiculopathy can often be managed using conservative, or nonsurgical, treatments such as physical therapy, exercise, pain medications, massage or rest. However, if weeks or months of conservative therapy prove ineffective, a physician may suggest surgery as an option. Traditional open spine surgery is usually treated as a last resort because it involves large muscle-tearing incisions and overnight hospitalization followed by a long recovery period.

If you are considering surgery but are concerned about these difficulties, reach out to Laser Spine Institute as an alternative. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute use state-of-the-art techniques to perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that offer our patients a shorter recovery period^ with less risk of complication.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost review of your MRI* to see if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.