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Overview of Radicular Pain

Radicular is the term for a root or root-like structure. Radicular pain originates in the nerve root where the nerve connects to the spinal column. The disorder occurs when the nerve is compressed, inflamed, injured or irritated. Other terms for the condition are radiculopathy and radiculitis.

One of the most common forms of radicular pain is sciatica. It is a collection of symptoms that originates in the sciatic nerve. This major nerve extends from the lower portion of the spine and branches off to the lower limbs. Radicular pain can also occur in the cervical spinal nerves located near the neck and cause pain and symptoms that would radiate down one or both of the arms.


In addition to back or neck pain, neurological symptoms of radicular pain disorders can include numbness, tingling, and/or muscle weakness. 

Radicular pain starts in your lower back and radiates toward your feet. The symptoms typically affect only one side of the lower body when coming from the low back. Sitting often increases the pain that occurs down the legs or buttocks. The pain can also prove difficult to find a comfortable resting position and movement may also become difficult in the legs and feet.

With respect to the neck, the most common symptoms of cervical radicular pain include a sharp or dull pain in your shoulders, between your shoulder blades, and down one or both of your arms. This can commonly be associated with numbness, tingling, and weakness. Cervical pain can also radiate up into your head. 


Radicular pain symptoms are associated with various underlying medical issues that affect the neck and back. Causes include:

Injuries: Motor vehicle collision, slip and falls, injury and trauma.

Herniated Discs: The inner, shock-absorbing substance contained in a spinal column disc can leak out when the outer layer ruptures. The ruptured discs cause neck and back pain when they compress the sciatic nerve and other adjacent nerves.

Spinal Stenosis: This condition occurs when the discs that support the spinal column lose their hydration and shrink. It narrows the space that enables nerves to exit the spinal column. The location of the narrowing will determine where in your body you will feel the radiating pain. 

Degenerative Disc Disease: The discs and spinal joints throughout the spinal column called facet joints can break down due to osteoarthritis leading to the development of bone spurs that can exert pressure on spinal nerve roots.

Other Causes: Diabetes


The treatment for radicular pain varies based on the underlying reasons for the condition and the severity of the symptoms. A physician will perform a comprehensive examination to determine the cause of your back pain. The diagnosis will enable the doctor to provide you with treatment options for your condition.

If you are experiencing radicular pain, you should schedule a consultation with a physician.