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Definition

Any injury, pain, muscle weakness, tingling and numbness that results in an irritated, inflammed or a compressed spinal nerve in the lower back of the leg is called lumbar radiculopathy.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of lumbar radioculopathy are:

  • Pain in the arms and legs
  • Numbness in the arms and legs
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Muscle weakness in the arms and legs
  • Low back pain
  • Sciatica

Risks

The following are the risk factors for lumbar radiculopathy:

  • Any activity that places an excessive or repetitive load on the spine or lower back
  • Persons who do heavy labour or perform contact sports
  • Family history of lumbar radiculopathy
  • Spine disorders of any kind

Diagnosis

The clinical diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy is through a combination of a lot of factors:

  • Patient's medical history and history of pain
  • A physical examination and description of pain
  • Imaging test results like MRI and CT -myelogram to confirm or rule out lumbar radiculopathy or see the extent of impingement of the nerve root

Treatment

The first line of treatment is usually conservative and non-surgical. And, if it fails to remove or alleviate the pain , then surgery is the way. Some of the treatment options include the following:

  • Medications, painkillers and ointments
  • Selective spinal injections
  • Physical therapy and gentle exercise or rest, as applicable
  • Sometime, lumbar radiculopathy resolves on its own within 6 weeks to 3 months
  • Decompressive surgery like laminectomy, discectomy or microdiscectomy in case of failuire of non-surgical methods and the severity of pain and muscle weakness go up. Surgery is totally dependent on imaging test results and severity of pain and muscle weakness
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