The main components of your spine consist of the vertebrae and the spinal cord, which run through the center of the vertebral bones. Disbanding from the spinal cord, nerve roots extend between the vertebrae in numerous locations within the body. Radiculopathy occurs when these nerve roots become pinched or damaged. This condition can occur as lumbar or cervical radiculopathy, depending on the location of the affected nerve root. While lumbar radiculopathy affects the lower back, cervical radiculopathy causes symptoms in the neck area.


Once a nerve root has been pinched or damaged, it starts to become inflamed, which can result in a number of symptoms, including:

  • Stabbing, sharp pain in the shoulder, arm, back, or leg
  • Pain that worsens with certain strenuous or everyday activities
  • Weakness in the limbs
  • Tingling or numbness in the limbs

In some instances, your symptoms may be constant, but you may notice periods where your symptoms become worse or disappear altogether. 


Radiculopathy is most often the result of a shift or change in tissues within the spine. When surrounding tissues shift, they can cause pressure to be placed on the nerve roots. Additionally, shifting can cause the narrowing of the area in which nerve roots travel through, a condition known as foraminal stenosis. Some factors that can lead to this narrowing are:

  • A herniated disc
  • Bone spurs
  • Thickening of ligaments in the spine
  • Spinal infections
  • Cancerous or benign spinal growths


In order to treat radiculopathy, the location and cause of the condition will need to be first identified. In most cases, conservative approaches are first administered, such as medication, physical therapy, and steroid injections to reduce swelling and restore movement to the spine. In cases where these methods prove to be ineffective, minimally invasive surgery may be the best option to release the compression off of the nerve root.