Radiculitis (Radicular Pain)

Radiculitis is a very discomforting condition that gives rise to physical irritation and even paralysis. Read on to know what is Radiculitis as well as its symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment.

Radiculitis Definition

Medical researchers define Radiculitis as the pain radiating along the path of nerves due to swelling of the roots of the spinal nerve. It is a disorder resulting from the degeneration of the spinal nerve roots. It is mainly an Osteochondrosis disease of intervertebral discs.

The term “Radiculitis” comes from the Latin word “Radicula”. This disease is also known by the name Radicular Pain.

Radiculitis Symptoms

The common symptoms of Radiculitis are

  • Pain, which is generally a burning ache
  • Problems in back motion
  • Muscular tension
  • Pricking sensations
  • Numbness along the paths of the affected nerve

Inflammation of cervical nerves usually gives rise to such discomforting symptoms in the arms, hands and shoulders. A swelling of the lumbar nerves can impact the legs, feet and buttocks with specific nerves affecting particular isolated areas.

Radiculitis Causes

This disease often results from chemical irritation caused by ruptures in the bony discs or mechanical compactions from foraminal stenosis or disc herniations. It is also caused by any condition affecting the back, including fractures and tumors of the spinal column that puts more pressure on the spinal nerves.

Radiculitis Treatment

Treatment of Radiculitis is often done by treating any condition that is supposed to have caused it in the first place. Cure is mainly done in two ways.

Conservative Treatment

This type of treatment may involve core muscle strengthening exercises, cold or heat therapy, physical therapy, anti inflammatory drugs and modifications of activities. Surgery for Radiculitis patients should not be considered unless the conservative methods of treatment fail to bring about any improvement.

Aggressive Treatment

If conservative treatment fails to bring about any relief, Endoscopic Foraminotomy may be used to relieve an affected nerve from pressure. Surgery provides immediate relief, often while the operation is still being conducted. This is a minimally invasive procedure that requires little time for recovery. This process only needs the use of intravenous sedation and local anaesthetic, mainly because the incision is small in nature.

Lumbar Radiculitis

It refers to an irritation or swelling of the root of a nerve in the lumbar or lower area of the spine. There is some amount of pain whenever this condition is present. This pain is generally a result of pressure over the nerve root (radicle) where it attaches to the spinal column. Sciatica is the most common type of Lumbar Radiculitis.

The location and amount of symptoms and pain may vary from person to person. Depending on the source and location of pain, a person may experience pain in the lower back, upper thigh, foot, gluteal muscles or calf.

Lumbosacral Radiculitis

This condition is characterized by an ache in the lumbar spine. Chronic Lumbosacral Radiculitis is known as Sciatica and is preceded by alternating episodes of painful attacks and complete absence of pain. The pain is usually experienced by individuals who are aged within 35 and 65 years. Generally, the pain varies from person to person.

Contrary to a popular misconception, this disease does not only affect individuals who are occupied in professions involving in heavy physical labor. It is also commonly seen in people who are engaged in intellectual labor. It is mainly a result of incorrect posture, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercises and motion.

Brachial Radiculitis

This disorder is also popularly known as Acute Brachial Plexus Neuritis. It is a rare condition in which there is an inflammation of the nerve known as brachial plexus that transmits signals from the spine to the shoulders, hands and arms. This gives rise to discomforts like numbness, acute pain or even paralysis. Pain is continuous and intense, and generally becomes worse at night. Rest fails to provide relief from this condition. The acute phase of this pain may persist from a few hours to a few weeks. However, some low-grade pain may last for a few months.

This condition is also known as Brachial Neuropathy.

Chemical Radiculitis

This is an inflammatory condition that is marked by swelling of the root of the nerves due to a tear of the annulus fibrosus and spread of disc fluid along the nerve root case.

The initial treatment of this disorder is made through non-surgical means such as epidural injections that consist of different steroids, flushing solutions, long term anesthetics and anti-inflammatory drugs. While epidural injections can relieve pain, they rarely make a permanent cure of the condition. Acupuncture, Physical therapy and chiropractic therapy are commonly used for cure.

In some cases, Herniated Disc Surgery is carried out. However, it usually offers inadequate curative results.

Cervical Radiculitis

Cervical Radiculitis is not the name of a particular condition. Rather, it refers to a cluster of symptoms of inflamed or irritated roots of nerve. The disorder may affect any region of the spine, though it most commonly affects the neck (cervical radiculitis) and the lower back (lumbar radiculitis).

Cervical Radiculitis Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of Cervical Radiculitis are

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Loss of motor function
  • Radicular pain

Many individuals experience sharp radicular pain which becomes worse with some bodily postures or activities. The condition may give rise to pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and chest. The site of the pain depends on which of the cervical disc and related nerves are affected. You may also experience numb or tingling fingers or a weakness of the muscles located in the chest and arms.

Cervical Radiculitis Diagnosis

The diagnosis of this condition is comparatively easy. Doctors use a number of imaging tests to get a glimpse of the cervical spine and any disks that may have become affected. These include CT and MRI Scans. Healthcare providers may also use Electrodiagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis.

MRI equipments can diagnose this condition quite effectively and help identify the site of nerve root compression. Electrodiagnostic Tests and CT scans can also be useful in diagnosing the disorder.

Cervical Radiculitis Treatment

Mild cases of this disease generally respond well to medications such as steroids or NSAIDs and physical therapy. Cases of this condition that fail to make a good response to conservative treatment can be treated in an effective manner with surgery. Surgical operation can effectively provide relief to the nerve root from compression. At the BIAAS (Bonati Institute for Advanced Arthroscopic Surgery), surgeries are conducted on an outpatient basis. In 90% cases, there is an immediate success rate as compared to the approximate success rate of 50 percent for patients of open back surgery.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, Radiculitis can go away much faster. The condition has an excellent prognosis and it is better to get in touch with a healthcare provider as soon as you spot its symptoms. This will help you achieve a faster recovery.






Published on August 8th 2011 by  under Bones, Joints and Muscles.
Article was last reviewed on 29th August 2011.

3 responses to “Radiculitis (Radicular Pain)”

  1. […] Radiculitis […]

  2. Leonard Laird says:

    Cervical Radiculitis . My doctors have given me a diagnosis This condition is something I would not want my worst enemy to have. After 4 years and two surgeries to remove a nerve root tumor located in my cervical spine c-3 region first surgery was to remove tumor. while this was taken place the doctors had to remove c-2 c-3 and c-4 because the tumor had grown attached to them over several years. the second surgery was to replace the old hardware because it was loose in a couple of places and just tightening them was not an option. this surgery had the removal of c-5 and c-6 with addition hardware to support the loss of bone. they called this fusion and well the first time around it did not work. second time fusion took hold and my life changed dramatically. I am not able to move my head in a up motion to view the stars or watch a plassing airplane or fly a kite with my grand kids. also side to side motion was reduced by at least 65 % driving became a issue because you have to have your head on a swivel . M head is locked into fusion. that is where they connect the bones they have left with the nearest bones in hopes they grow together and their operations were deemed successful and my life was doomed to a pain I could barely handle on a daily basis with no end in sight. I now have to take medications for pain and muscle relaxers every single day.. Also with this condition every nerve in my cervical spine has been damaged or altered in some way or the other to where the nerves do not know how to fire properly and probably never will. All I want is one day free from pain and at least one night of a restful sleep where I do not have to preposition my body and fight it to find comfort

  3. tina says:

    I know how you feel.I also had the same operation.My neck is not center and I always feel pain in the neck, shoulders,arm,hand down the left side of back into my leg and foot.sharp shooting pain and it aches all the time.I been on so many meds.I can’t seem to find any med that will relieve this daily pain.I am getting worn down physical and mentally.It is in some way good to know I am not alone.I pray that you and others like us get miracle.God bless you.

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