Lumbar Radiculopathy: Things to Know


April 16, 2021

On average, three to five percent of adults experience the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy in their lifetime. The disease affects both men and women; most often people aged 30 to 50 years. Fortunately, the health issue is treatable. Understanding this condition will enable you to seek professional help and get the appropriate treatment. So what exactly is lumbar radiculopathy?  


Lumbar radiculopathy is simply the irritation or inflammation of a spinal nerve root in the lower back. This happens when a nerve is pinched, compressed or injured, leading to pain, numbness and weakness of the back and legs. The condition causes symptoms that spread out from the lower back and down to one leg, but may affect both legs. The intensity and location of the pain will depend on the specific nerve that has been affected and the amount of pressure being placed on it. 

There are several causes of this type of pain. They include: 

  • A herniated disc that causes nerve compression.
  • Degeneration from aging and wear and tear. This can lead to spinal stenosis
  • Unstable spine caused by a vertebra slipping forward.
  • Diabetes, infection or tumors of the spine.

Some risk factors for developing the disorder are being overweight, improper lifting techniques, poor posture and a family history of degenerative bone conditions. 


Lumbar radiculopathy can cause a range of symptoms. The symptoms you may experience include:

  • Sharp pain that starts in the back and extends to the leg and foot.
  • Worsening pain when sneezing, coughing, reaching or sitting. 
  • Numbness or weakness in the leg.
  • Muscle spasms.
  • Difficulty bending or rotating your back.
  • Inability to remain in one position for extended periods of time. 
  • In case the nerves affecting the bladder or bowel become compressed, you may experience incontinence. 


When you visit a doctor, the professional will first perform a physical exam to determine your condition. The medical expert may also use tests such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scan to get more information. This will help to determine the proper treatment option.

In about 95 percent of cases, the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy can be relieved using nonsurgical measures. These include prescription and over-the-counter medications, physical therapy, and home-based remedies like rest and ice and heat. If symptoms persist, your doctor can recommend higher-level treatments such as injectable steroids and surgery.  


Irritated and inflamed nerves can get damaged over time, resulting in permanent weakness or numbness of the legs. You need to see a doctor immediately if:

  • You experience new pain or the pain gets worse.
  • The numbness, tingling or weakness in your leg increases.
  • You have a hard time controlling your bladder or bowel. 
  • You have difficulties with everyday activities. 

At Southeast Pain and Spine Care, we use advanced pain management techniques to ensure our patients receive quality, non-surgical pain relief. Our highly trained and experienced physicians will provide you with the best care. Contact us today to request a consultation.