Physical therapy for radiculopathy

Physical therapy for radiculopathy is one of several types of conservative treatments a physician might suggest to manage acute or chronic neck or back pain. Radiculopathy is pain or discomfort that often originates with the spine’s nerve roots and radiates through other parts of the body. This kind of pain can respond well to nonsurgical treatment in many situations. Every case is different, and you should always consult a physician or trained physical therapist before beginning a new exercise program.

How physical therapy treats radiculopathy

Radiculopathy can originate at any point along the spine but is most commonly found within the cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) vertebrae. These are the most flexible parts of the spine, and the stress placed upon them by the body’s movement can lead to spinal conditions that compress nerve roots or the spinal cord. Conditions that might require physical therapy for radiculopathy include spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, arthritis of the spine, bulging disc, herniated disc, sciatica pain and others.

In order to determine a course of treatment for radiculopathy, a physician will perform a physical and neurological exam. Imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan can help find the location and cause of the traveling pain. Pain medications, steroidal injections, massage or rest might be prescribed, along with an exercise plan and physical therapy.

A licensed, professional physical therapist helps patients by guiding them through movements designed to strengthen areas of the body which can restore mobility and function. These are the goals of physical therapy for radiculopathy:

  • Teach proper techniques for stretching and muscle strengthening
  • Improve posture and ergonomic movement
  • Accelerate the healing process
  • Prevent future injury
  • Take pressure off the source of nerve compression

When to consider surgery

If weeks or months of physical therapy for radiculopathy along with a comprehensive course are not enough to manage chronic neck or back pain, a physician might present surgery as an option. Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to traditional surgery, using minimally invasive techniques. By using a small muscle-sparing incision to access the spine and decompress nerves, our procedures help patients avoid hospital-associated costs and enjoy a shorter recovery time^ than traditional procedures.

Contact Laser Spine Institute for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to help you find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.