Radiculopathy - Treatments

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What is the treatment for radiculopathy?

Fortunately, most people can obtain good relief of their symptoms of radiculopathy with conservative treatment. This may include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, and avoiding activity that strains the neck or back. The majority of radiculopathy patients respond well to this conservative treatment, and symptoms often improve within 6 weeks to 3 months.

If patients do not improve with the treatments listed above they may benefit from an epidural steroid injection. With the help of an X-ray machine, a physician injects steroid medication between the bones of the spine adjacent to the involved nerves. This can help to rapidly reduce the inflammation and irritation of the nerve and help reduce the symptoms of radiculopathy.

In some cases the symptoms continue despite all of the above treatment options. If this occurs and the symptoms are severe, surgery may be an option. The goal of the surgery is to remove the compression from the affected nerve. Depending on the cause of the radiculopathy, this can be done by a laminectomy or a discectomy. A laminectomy removes a small portion of the bone covering the nerve to allow it to have additional space. A discectomy removes the portion of the disc that has herniated out and is compressing a nerve.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: chutloon, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 13

I am a disabled veteran with radiculopathy of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. I tried all the treatments available, from steroid injections, "burning" of the nerves, and all types of physical therapy. The best thing that helped me was acupuncture. After my insurance would not pay for any more acupuncture treatments, their only resolve was to keep me on morphine and lyraquel. I would rather have been able to continue the acupuncture indefinitely since they do not want to operate.

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Comment from: drhalister, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: July 18

I developed radiculopathy at my c-8, causing soreness in my tricep, the top muscle in my forearm, and tingling in my ring and little fingers. I also had pain in my shoulder that caused some muscle spasms that required massage therapy to resolve. The treatment for my condition was traction (daily for 14 days followed by icing down the area), step-down prescription of Prednisone, and massage. In week two, we began a series of stretching exercises of the shoulders and pectoral muscles. This proceeded for four weeks, at which time I resumed golfing and other activities lightly.

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