Lumbar radiculopathy is a condition caused by a compressed nerve in the spine. This compressed nerve can cause pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness along the course of the nerve, resulting in radicular pain. Radicular pain is a type of pain that radiates into the lower extremities directly along the path of a spinal nerve root. Many changes in your disk can occur as you age which puts adults between the ages of 30-50 at higher risk of developing lumbar radiculopathy. Common conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and even obesity can increase the risk of radiculopathy development.
What Causes Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy is caused by the compression of the nerves as they exit the spine. This can be due to mechanical compression of the nerve by a disc herniation, a bone spur from osteoarthritis, or from thickening or surrounding ligaments.
A herniated spinal disc can cause the outer rim of a lumbar disc to weaken or tear, which results in outward pushing of a spinal nerve. Another cause of lumbar radiculopathy can be scoliosis. Scoliosis can result in nerves compacting on one side of the spine due to the abnormal spinal curvature. Age, poor posture, or stress from repetitive activities can also lead to compression, resulting in radiculopathy.
Symptoms of Lumbar Radiculopathy
Lumbar radiculopathy pain usually begins in the lower back and radiates down the back of one leg. Radiculopathy can mimic the symptoms of sciatica and can include:
- Pain in lower back, buttocks, hip or lower extremities
- Leg numbness/tingling sensation
- Burning sensation
- Foot numbness
- Muscle weakness
The MISI Approach to Lumbar Radiculopathy
There are several conservative treatment options for symptoms of radiculopathy. These include:
- Ice therapy – to reduce inflammation and dull pain
- Physical activity – including stretching and strengthening
- Over the counter Medication
- Physical Therapy
- Medication Therapy – can include muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and nerve pain medications
- Chiropractic Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Steroid injections
- Epidural steroid injection
- Pain management Therapy
If symptoms do not get resolved via conservative methods, your spine specialist may recommend a decompressive surgery, such as a laminectomy or discectomy to release the affected nerve.
Bone Spurs in the back, or Lumbar Osteophyte
As our spine degenerates over time, bone spurs can occur. Sometimes, ligaments thicken and can calcify leading to bone spurs. The joints in the spine may also form spurs as they degenerate.
What Causes Bone Spurs in the Back?
Normal aging and degeneration process are common causes for bone spurs. Poor posture, arthritis, lifestyle or traumatic injuries such as in sports or automobile accidents can hasten the formation of bone spurs in the back. Heredity may also impact the likelihood of getting bone spurs.
Bone Spur in the back Symptoms
- Stiffness in lower back or hips down to the feet
- Pain in affected area
- Radiating leg pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Weakness in the legs
The MISI Approach to Bone Spurs in the Back Treatments
It is always best to try conservative treatment to alleviate symptoms of bone spurs in the back first. These treatment options can include one or a combination of the following:
- Anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication
- Pain Medication
- Chiropractic Treatment
- Physical Therapies
- Massage Therapy
- Injection Treatment
In the event that symptoms persist, surgical intervention may be needed. Depending on the patients’ condition, there are several minimally invasive surgeries that may be considered. Some common procedures used to treat pain associated with bone spurs include laminotomy, foraminotomy and discectomy. There are more complex minimally invasive procedures for more advanced stages of bone spurring.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.