Lumbar Radiculopathy Diagnosis
Lumbar radiculopathy causes pain in the back and hips and can radiate into the thigh and calf. Degenerative changes, such as bone spurs or herniated disc can irritate or compress the nerve roots in the lumbar spine (lower back). Patients often complain of numbness and tingling that extends down to the feet and toes of the affected leg. Treatment varies, depending on the cause of the nerve impingement. The most common cause is spinal stenosis which can be seen on an MRI.
Conservative Treatment of Lumbar Radiculopathy
Lumbar radiculopathy is painful, but rarely harmful. Most cases can be successfully treated without surgery, and the condition will sometimes resolve on its own. Medications may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. Epidural steroid injections, or nerve blocks, may be recommended if other conservative treatments fail.
Surgery for Lumbar Radiculopathy
Surgery is recommended in cases of severe pain or progressive weakness. Most of the time, surgery is performed for lumbar radiculopathy on an elective basis.. The most common operation is called a laminectomy which simply means removing bone from the spinal canal to make more room for the nerves. Often if your pain is on one side only I will operate only on the side you have pain – it’s called a hemi-laminectomy. Hemi-laminectomy and minimally invasive laminectomy are outpatient procedures, i.e. same day surgery
Although uncommon, loss of bowel or bladder control, profound leg weakness, or loss of feeling in one or both legs can indicate cauda equina syndrome. This is a medical emergency. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to be seen by a physician right away.
Only your surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for surgery. Be sure that you understand the benefits and risks of a proposed intervention before making a treatment decision.