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Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)

What is Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)?  

Lumbar radiculopathy, also known as sciatica, is a condition characterized by the irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the lower (lumbar) region of the spine. Because these nerves travel to the hips, buttocks, legs, and feet, an injury or issue in the lumbar spine can cause pain and other symptoms in these areas. 

What Causes Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)?  

There are several common causes of lumbar radiculopathy: 

  • – Herniated disc: A herniated or ruptured disc in the lumbar spine can cause the soft inner material to bulge outward and press on a nearby nerve root. 
  • – Degenerative disc disease: As spinal discs weaken with age, the vertebrae above and below can shift out of position, pinching the nerve roots. 
  • – Spinal stenosis: Degeneration of the bones, discs, or joints in the spine can lead to the formation of bone spurs that encroach on the spinal canal or foramen space, compressing the nerve roots. 

What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)?  

The specific symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy depend on which nerve root is affected: 

  • – L2 nerve root: Thigh pain and hip weakness 
  • – L3 nerve root: Thigh pain and knee/thigh weakness
  • – L4 nerve root: Pain from lower back to foot, foot weakness 
  • – L5 nerve root: Pain from outer leg to top of foot, foot weakness 
  • – S1 nerve root: Pain from calf to outer foot, foot weakness 

Common symptoms include radiating pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected leg and extremity. 

How is Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica) Treated?  

Treatment for lumbar radiculopathy typically involves a combination of conservative and interventional approaches: 

  • – Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling 
  • – Physical therapy to improve mobility, strength, and flexibility 
  • – Epidural steroid injections to target nerve root inflammation 
  • – Spinal decompression procedures to create more space for the nerves 
  • – In severe, unresponsive cases, surgical options like disc removal or spinal fusion 

The specific treatment plan is tailored to the underlying cause and severity of the individual’s symptoms, in close collaboration with their healthcare provider. Early and comprehensive treatment is key for managing lumbar radiculopathy effectively.

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