When you have back pain due to a pinched nerve, you may have radiculopathy, or more commonly, lumbar radiculopathy. Lumbar radiculopathy can be very uncomfortable, and you may need expert treatment from Scott Smith, MD at Failed Back Institute in Weatherford, Granbury & Midland, Texas,. Dr. Smith has over 25 years of experience treating complex spinal disorders using advanced spinal surgical techniques, even if you’ve had back surgery before. For a consultation regarding your back pain, call or request an appointment online.

What is lumbar radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy, also called sciatica, is a painful condition caused by a pinched spinal nerve in your lower back. Radiculopathy can refer to a nerve that is pinched or compressed anywhere along your spinal column.

The spinal column is made of up five regions:

  • Neck or cervical spine
  • Sacrum, or between the hips
  • Tailbone, or base of the spine
  • Lower back, or lumbar spine
  • Midback, or thoracic spine

Lumbar radiculopathy is pinched nerve pain in the lumbar spine. The spinal nerves that branch off the lumbar spine run from your low back, down the back of the legs, and extend down to your feet. These nerves are the longest of your body, so the symptoms may be significant.

What are the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy?

Symptoms of pinched or compressed nerves in the lumbar region might include one sign or a combination of several:

  • Pain extending from your low back into the buttock or leg
  • Sharp or shooting pain down your leg
  • Burning sensation down the back of your thigh to the lower leg or foot
  • Pain relief when lying down
  • Weakness in a leg or foot
  • Changes in reflex responses
  • Numbness, tingling, or prickling down the leg
  • Increased symptoms with a change in positions
  • Increased pain with standing, walking, or sitting for long periods

You may have mild back pain with lumbar radiculopathy, or sciatica, but this pain is usually much less than the pain in your buttocks, legs, thighs, or lower legs. Usually, the nerve is affected on only one side of your body, but the symptoms may be present on both sides.

What causes lumbar radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy is pain associated with an underlying cause that compresses or compromises the spinal nerve. Spinal conditions that may cause radiculopathy of any kind include:

  • Compression fractures
  • Tumors
  • Disc herniation, or compression of the cushion between vertebrae
  • Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of your spinal canal
  • Degenerative disc disease, or breakdown of the bone tissue of the vertebrae

Chronic conditions, such as diabetes and osteoarthritis, can also contribute to radiculopathy. Risk factors that place you at higher risk for this condition include obesity, smoking, advanced age, and improper posture or body mechanics.

How is lumbar radiculopathy treated?

Treatment usually begins with oral and injected steroids, physical therapy, or spinal manipulation.

If conservative treatment isn’t successful, surgery may be needed to relieve the underlying causes of the pinched or compressed nerve. Dr. Smith has performed thousands of spinal surgeries and may suggest:

  • Laminectomy: For removal of bone spurs
  • Microdiscectomy: For removal of a portion of a herniated disc that is causing pain
  • Spinal fusion: To stabilize and strengthen the joint

Even if you’ve already been surgically treated for lumbar radiculopathy, call or request an appointment online with Dr. Smith.