Tingling, numbness and weakness — common issues of radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is a term for radiating symptoms caused by compression at or near the root of a nerve as it leaves the spinal column. The spine is a complicated structure — it must be strong enough to support the upper body and spinal cord while remaining flexible enough for basic movement.

All the weight and movement involved can lead to degenerative conditions that narrow the spine and can cause painful nerve compression. Symptoms of tingling, numbness and weakness in the extremities are common issues stemming from these spine conditions. Patient education is an important part of the care process and learning about causes and treatment options for radiculopathy can help you make a decision with the best chance of getting you back to a healthy, active life.

How spine conditions cause these common issues

The brain and the spine make up the central nervous system, which sends sensory and motor information to the rest of the body. Radiculopathy occurs from interference between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, which gives sensation to the rest of the body. A common source of this interference is narrowing of the openings — called the foramina — where nerve roots exit the spine. This narrowing is called foraminal stenosis and can be caused by several conditions including:

  • Arthritic bone spurs
  • Inflamed spinal joints
  • Bulging discs
  • Herniated discs

The location of radiculopathy is dependent on where in the spinal column the nerves are compressed, with nerve compression in the cervical (upper) spine leading to symptoms in the neck, arms, shoulders and hands. While a compressed nerve in the lumbar (lower) spine causes issues in the hips, buttocks and legs.

Treatment options

There are a range of treatment options if you are experiencing numbness, tingling or muscle weakness in your extremities. In many cases, the causes of radiculopathy can be addressed with the help of your primary care physician. Radiculopathy treatments vary case by case but typically include some combination of physical therapy and rest, the presence of hot or cold packs and pain medication. In the event that the cause of the symptoms is more serious, or a patient simply isn’t responding to treatment, surgical options may be presented.

Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery currently offered to help patients find lasting relief from neck and back pain. These procedures are an alternative to traditional open spine surgery because our surgeons use a muscle-sparing, less than 1-inch incision to decompress nerves, leading to a shorter recovery time for our patients.^

When you contact us, we can even provide you with a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.