“It’s my leg that is hurting, not my back, why are you X-raying my spine?”
This is a common question we receive from patients for a condition called radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is defined as disease of the nerve root. This condition can be marked by radiating pain into one or more of the extremities. In the case of radiculopathy, the problem occurs in the spine where the nerve roots are located. Symptoms can affect daily activities of living, and, in some cases, can be debilitating in nature.
Reasons behind the “disease of the nerve root” may vary. By the time you have made it to your spine specialist, you may have had some treatment already. This can include use of NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, or other pain alleviating medications. Treatment may have also included physical therapy or chiropractic care. These nonoperative treatments are excellent front line options for radiculopathy. If these treatments fail to significantly modify or reduce the pain after a certain time frame, you may be a candidate for advanced imaging to determine the cause of your radiculopathy.
Reasons for radiculopathy can include but are not limited to:
- Nerve root entrapment from a herniated disc. The discs are special cushions located between the bones of your spine and can become displaced.
- Nerve root entrapment from bone spurs. Bone spurring can be the result of arthritic conditions affecting your spine.
- Irritation of the nerve root may be resultant from a tear in the lining of your discs.
- Reduced space for your nerves secondary to collapsed disc spaces or a narrowed spinal canal.