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Injury Definitions


Radiculopathy is defined as a pathological condition of the nerve roots. Nerve roots are nerve fibers that branch off the spinal cord in pairs: one to the left and one to the right. The nerve roots are numbered according to where they are located in the spine. There are nerve roots in the neck (cervical), mid back (thoracic) and the low back (lumbosacral) areas. Nerve roots travel through small openings between the vertebrae and connect to other nerves in the body. The nerves are responsible for both sensation and motor function.

When a nerve root is compressed or irritated it can cause a person to experience pain, tingling, numbness or other sensations in the area of the body that the nerve root serves. This is called radiculitis and it is often referred to as radiating pain or radiating symptoms.

Physicians can diagnose radiculopathy using a number of techniques. The first step in all diagnoses is a detailed history. Next is a physical examination. Certain motions can cause or increase neck or back pain or cause or increase radicular symptoms, which can assist in making the diagnosis. Imaging studies such as CT scans or MRI might be able to show a compression of the nerve root. An electromyogram and nerve conduction velocity test may show irritation of a particular nerve root.

When one has radiculopathy it can be treated conservatively with rest, traction, muscle strengthening and stretching. If the condition does not improve epidural steroid injections may be used to decrease the swelling of the nerve root. If all else fails surgical intervention may be required to remove the cause of the compression on the nerve root.


If the radiculopathy causes muscle weakness, surgery is probably indicated and it should be performed sooner rather than later. If too much time passes the nerve root may be permanently injured and removing the cause of the compression will not restore the motor function.

For related information go to: Actions Against Common Carriers, Back Injuries, Dangerous Condition of Public Property, Dog Attacks, Elder Abuse, Footdrop,  Insurance Bad Faith, Intervertebral Disk Injuries,  Medical Malpractice, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Neck Injuries, Negligence Law, Nerve Injuries, Nursing Home Neglect, Pain, Premises Liability and Products Liability.

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