Radiculopathy - Causes

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What are the causes of radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is caused by compression or irritation of the nerves as they exit the spine. This can be due to mechanical compression of the nerve by a disc herniation, a bone spur (osteophytes) from osteoarthritis, or from thickening of surrounding ligaments.

Other less common causes of mechanical compression of the nerves are from a tumor or infection. Either of these can reduce the amount of space in the spinal canal and compress the exiting nerve.

Scoliosis can cause the nerves on one side of the spine to become compressed by the abnormal curve of the spine.

Other causes of radiculopathy include diabetes which can decrease the normal blood flow to the spinal nerves. Inflammation from trauma or degeneration can lead to radiculopathy from direct irritation of the nerves.

Return to Radiculopathy

See what others are saying

Comment from: momathan, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 08

The cause of my radiculopathy was I sat in an upright position on a plane for 4 to 6 hours with no change in position or little change in position - round trip. I never felt I relaxed in my head, neck, or shoulders due to the restrictions of space in the plane.

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Comment from: other side, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 31

Decades of lifting, moving patients and equipment in nursing home and hospital setting caused my radiculopathy. Sometimes, before it became illegal, having had to work from Friday morning on call Friday night and for the weekend and not getting any more than a cat nap in a chair, my entire body now suffers. Severe arthritis in both feet, all joints and spine areas. Today caregivers are not to put in more than 16 straight hours, not over 48. I am still a limited caregiver, too stubborn to go on disability.

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