Lumbar Radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy, also commonly called sciatica, is the radiating pain, numbness or weakness in the leg caused by inflammation or pinching of a spinal nerve in the lower back. Lumbar radiculopathy can result from a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, or stenosis (narrowing) of the lumbar spine.

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Lumbar radiculopathy results from damaged or disturbance in nerve function in the lower back. This can occur as a result of pressure from material from a ruptured disc, degenerative changes in bones, arthritis or other injuries that put pressure on the nerve roots. In middle-aged people, normal aging of the spine can cause pressure on nerve roots. In much younger people, cervical radiculopathy is normally caused by ruptured disc from a trauma, compressing the nerve roots and causing pain.
The most common symptom of lumbar radiculopathy is pain that spreads or radiates in the back of the leg to the calf or foot. Patients with lumbar radiculopathy may also experience muscle weakness, numbness, tingling or loss of specific reflexes.
The clinical diagnosis for lumbar radiculopathy is usually arrived at through a combination of the patient’s medical history and a physical exam. Imaging studies (MRI, CT-myelogram) are used to confirm the diagnosis and will typically show the impingement on the nerve root.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – MRI shows the soft tissues of the body and gives clearer picture of the discs, nerves and soft tissues in the lower back.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT Scan)with Myelogram- Combined CT scan and myleography produces image that clearly show both the bone structures of the spine and the nerve structures
At ONE® Brain & Spine Center®, it is recommended that a course of non-surgical treatment should be conducted first. Initial treatment may include pain and anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids or non-steroidal pain medication like ibuprofen and physical therapy. Steroids may be prescribed either orally or injected epidurally (into the space above the dura, which is the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord).If non-surgical treatment does not alleviate the pain, minimally invasive decompressive surgery may be recommended.

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Epidural steroid injection
  • Physical therapy

Minimally Invasive Surgical Treatments

  • Posterior Cervical and Lumbar Microdiscectomy (Microdecompression)- Microdiscectomy, also known as microdecompression, is one of the most commonly performed minimally invasive spine procedures. Beneficial for those with damaged discs at either the cervical or lumbar level, microdiscectomy effectively removes the pressure off the spinal nerves, relieving chronic neck and back pain without the recovery and rehabilitation time required with traditional, open discectomy spine surgery. Read more about Microdecompression.
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)- Spinal fusion is a procedure that “welds” two vertebrae of the spine together to create one solid bone and relieve chronic pain. The anterior approach for the lumbar fusion is through the front of the body– the abdomen– and is considered to be far more ideal than the traditional posterior approach, or through the back. Read more about ALIF.
  • Posterior Cervical and Lumbar Microdiscectomy (Microdecompression) – Microdiscectomy, also known as microdecompression, is one of the most commonly performed minimally invasive spine procedures. Beneficial for those with damaged discs at either the cervical or lumbar level, microdiscectomy effectively removes the pressure off the spinal nerves, relieving chronic neck and back pain without the recovery and rehabilitation time required with traditional, open discectomy spine surgery. Read more about Microdecompression.
  • Cervical and Lumbar Spine Arthroplasty – Spine arthroplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the placement of an artificial disc after the removal of a damaged disc. Read more about Cervical and Lumbar Spine Arthroplasty.