Lumbar Radiculopathy

Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center

Neurosurgery located in Phoenix, AZ & Sun City West, AZ

You might be more familiar with the painful back condition known as sciatica than lumbar radiculopathy, but they’re essentially the same thing. Expert neurosurgeons Abhishiek Sharma, MD, and Erik Curtis, MD, of Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Phoenix, have many years of experience helping patients with lumbar radiculopathy, providing a range of treatments that includes advanced surgical procedures. Schedule your consultation by calling Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center today, or book an appointment online.

Lumbar Radiculopathy Q & A

What is lumbar radiculopathy?

If you have lumbar radiculopathy, it means you have a pinched nerve in the lumbar vertebrae that make up the lower section of your spine. Although lumbar radiculopathy can affect any of the nerves in the lumbar region, the sciatic nerve is the one most often affected, causing sciatica.

The sciatic nerve travels from the lumbar spine down to the pelvis, where it branches into two. One branch goes into each leg and travels down to the feet. If the sciatic nerve comes under pressure, it causes pain that typically radiates from the lower back and hip down the thigh, and sometimes all the way to the foot.

You might also experience weakness in the affected leg, the feeling of pins and needles, or numbness, tingling, or burning. The pain is likely to worsen when you move, or if you sneeze or cough.

How is lumbar radiculopathy diagnosed?

The symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy are quite distinctive. A physical exam gives your provider at Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center a clear indication that this is the problem.

You may also need diagnostic imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, so your provider can get a clearer picture of what’s causing the pressure on the nerve roots.

How is lumbar radiculopathy treated?

Many people who develop lumbar radiculopathy find that with rest and gentle exercise, their symptoms go away within a couple of weeks. Using ice packs and taking anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxants helps reduce swelling and inflammation, which eases the pain and gives the tissues a chance to heal.

At Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center, the team offers a selection of nonsurgical treatments that help relieve the pain and other symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy, including:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Epidural spinal injections
  • Selective nerve blocks
  • Exercise
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy

Surgery

If these therapies don’t provide relief of your symptoms after three months, you may want to consider surgery. Surgery for lumbar radiculopathy focuses on relieving the pressure on the nerve root that causes the symptoms. 

Surgeries for lumbar radiculopathy include:

  • Microdiscectomy
  • Lumbar laminectomy
  • Foraminotomy
  • Facetectomy
  • Laminoforaminotomy

You may also have bone spurs (osteophytes) or hypertrophic (overgrown) ligaments that need removing.

To find out more about surgical options for lumbar radiculopathy, call Atlas Neurosurgery and Spine Center today or book an appointment online.