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What is Radiculitis?


Radiculitis, also referred to as radicular pain, is painful inflammation along a spinal nerve’s pathway due to pressure on the nerve. Pressure related to inflammation on a nerve that causes radicular pain can be caused by several spinal conditions, such as a herniated disc or osteoarthritis.

Radiculitis, which is a term used to describe the condition caused by inflammation of a spinal nerve, can affect any part of the spine and each type causes different symptoms. The following are the types of radiculitis:

  • Cervical radiculitis – This refers to an inflamed nerve in the cervical spine (neck), which consists of seven vertebrae beginning at the base of the skull.
  • Thoracic radiculitis – This refers to an inflamed nerve in the thoracic spine, which is the upper and mid-back.
  • Lumbar radiculitis – This refers to an inflamed nerve in the lumbar spine, which is the lower back.

Radiculitis can affect the extremities and be accompanied by tingling, numbness and weakness. In most cases, radiculitis symptoms can be managed with a combination of noninvasive treatments, such as physical therapy and heat and cold. Surgery may be recommended depending on the spinal condition causing your radiculitis symptoms.

Living with chronic pain is difficult and we understand the frustration that comes from trying different treatments and not getting the relief you need. You may be a candidate for minimally invasive back pain treatment. Back Pain Centers of America (BPC) has helped thousands of patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain caused by different spine conditions. Call us at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] today to find out if one of our cutting-edge treatment options is right for you.

Pain from radiculitis can impact your life

Causes of Radiculitis

Radiculitis can be caused by a number of spinal abnormalities that can cause inflammation. Some of these include:

Injury to the spine from an accident or fall can also cause damage to the spine that compresses a nerve.

Your risk of developing most of these causes of radiculitis is increased by factors such as:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Poor posture
  • Occupations that place repetitive stress on the spine
  • Improper lifting

Radiculitis Symptoms

Radiculitis symptoms caused by an inflamed spinal nerve including:

  • Radicular pain – Your pain will radiate along the pathways of the compressed nerve. A pinched nerve in the neck will cause neck pain that extends to the shoulder and arm, and sometimes to the hand and fingers. Pain from a pinched nerve in the back can radiate to the hips, buttock, groin, and down the leg.
  • Numbness or tingling – A pinched nerve in the neck can cause numbness or tingling, which also feels like “pins and needles,” in arms and hands while a pinched nerve your lower back will cause these symptoms in the buttocks, groin, legs, and feet.
  • Weakness – A compressed nerve can cause weakness in the arms or legs that can interfere with mobility.

Though rare, a compressed nerve can cause a serious condition called cauda equine syndrome (CES), which affects the bundle of nerves in the lower portion of the spinal cord. CES is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgical treatment. If pain is accompanied by a loss of bladder or bowel control, call 911 right away.

Radiculitis Treatment

It is generally recommended that radicular pain treatment is first managed using a combination of nonsurgical treatments. These include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medication – OTC pain medications, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, can often relieve mild to moderate radicular pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy and exercise – Exercise to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves can relieve radicular pain and other radiculitis symptoms. Exercise can also increase flexibility.
  • Prescription pain medication – Stronger pain medication, such as narcotics, may be prescribed for the short-term relief of severe pain. These are not recommended for long-term use because of side effects. They are also habit-forming and therefore should be used only under supervision.
  • Muscle relaxants – Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant if you are having muscle spasms.
  • Heat and cold – Applying alternating heat and cold may help with pain and inflammation.
  • Deep tissue massage – Massage can help to relax stiff muscles and relieve pain.
  • Steroid injections – Corticosteroid medication injected directly into the affected portion of the spine can be used for temporary relief of moderate to severe pain. This is sometimes used in combination with an anesthetic (numbing agent).

When radicular pain and weakness isn’t relieved after trying a series of nonsurgical treatments for a few weeks, surgery may be recommended. Many minimally invasive spine procedures exist that can be used to treat the various spine conditions known to cause radicular pain. Decompression surgeries to release the compressed nerve by treating bone spurs or herniated discs are just some of the outpatient procedures available for radiculitis treatment.

If you’re tired of living with chronic neck or back pain, BPC can help. Call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”] to learn more about our minimally invasive treatments and to get matched with a board-certified spine specialist who can provide the treatment you need.

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