Lumbar radiculopathy refers to disease of the nerve roots of the lumbar spine or low back. Lumbar radiculopathy is often caused by compression of these nerve roots. Patients can experience pain, weakness, or numbness that radiates into the buttocks and down the leg. This is also known as Sciatica. Patients can also experience pain into the hip or groin. This type of pain down into the buttocks, hip, and down the leg is known as “referred pain.”
Irritation or compression of the nerve roots are most often the cause of lumbar radiculopathy. Conditions include lumbar disc herniation, spinal stenosis, and other degenerative changes within the spine.
Symptoms include pain, weakness, numbness and tingling as well as changes in reflexes. These symptoms can present down the leg and into the foot.
A thorough history and physical examination is helpful in the diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy. X Rays may be helpful in identifying degenerative changes within the spine. MRI can be helpful to evaluate the soft tissue structures including intervertebral discs and spinal nerve roots.
Treatment of lumbar radiculopathy includes surgical and non-surgical interventions. Physical therapy is helpful for strengthening the spine and taking pressure off of the nerve roots and anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation. Epidural or steroid injections reduce swelling and help with acute pain or symptoms.
Surgical treatment varies depending on the cause of the lumbar radiculopathy. Surgical options include microdiscectomy, laminectomy, and spinal fusion.