The Cause of Your Pain: Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
What is Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Also referred to as Sciatica, Lumbar Radiculopathy occurs when there is pain in the lower extremities. The pain originates in the lower back area, usually in the buttocks and descends as far down as the feet. The pain is caused when there is pressure or compression on the sciatic nerve.
Understanding Spinal Anatomy
To better understand the condition known as lumbar radiculopathy, it’s important to visualize the spinal anatomy. Your spine is made up in a stacked block fashion of 33 vertebrae. Experts usually divide the spinal column into four areas:
- Cervical (neck)
- Thoracic (upper to middle of the back)
- Lumbar (lower back)
- Sacrum (pelvis)
In between each vertebra, there is a disc, which offers support and protection. Think of it like the shock protection on a bike or vehicle. Lastly, inside your spine, there runs a hollow canal. This is where nerve roots run through. When a disc slips or the canal is too narrow, lumbar radiculopathy occurs.
Possible Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments
If you have lumbar radiculopathy, there are a variety of treatment options that include surgery and nonsurgical procedures:
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications: Prescriptions containing anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin may be used to alleviate low level pain.
- Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation therapy can be immensely effective in correcting spinal misalignment and disc slippage.
- Exercise: Physical exercise allows you to properly strengthen the muscle groups responsible for stability and movement in the lower back.
- Mediation: Focused mindfulness may be effective in lowering perceived levels of pain.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation: A minimally invasive procedure, SCS involves implanting a small device in the skin that cancels out pain signals to the brain.
- Emergency Surgery: Spinal surgery may be suggested if all other treatment methods have proven unsuccessful.