Radiculitis is a type of neurological pain that is caused by inflammation or irritation of the nerve roots where they connect to the spinal column. The pain begins in the spine but can also extend to the arms and legs depending on whether the condition develops in the neck or back. This type of pain can occur anywhere along the spine, though it is most commonly located in the lower back or neck. Radiculitis is most effectively treated when caught early as the condition can worsen over time, leading to further nerve damage as well as weakened muscles.
Because they share some similar symptoms, radiculitis and radiculopathy are sometimes confused with one another. The key difference between these two conditions is that radiculopathy pain is caused by nerve damage, whereas radiculitis is caused by nerve inflammation or irritation.
Types of Radiculitis
There are three types of radiculitis, which are categorized by the location of where the radicular pain is taking place.
Cervical radiculitis refers to radicular pain that originates in the neck, also known as the cervical spine. This area of the spine consists of the initial seven vertebrae and begins at the bottom of a person’s skull. With cervical radiculitis, pain can radiate across a person’s neck, shoulders, or down one or both arms, depending on which nerves are affected. Pain from radiculitis may also be associated with tingling or numbness in the arms, hands or fingers.
Further down the body, radicular pain can also occur in the thoracic spine, which is the middle part of the back that consists of 12 vertebrae. Chest and rib pain is the most common symptom of thoracic radiculitis, but some patients may also experience it along the shoulder blades, middle back, or upper-middle back. Thoracic radiculitis can also cause feelings of chest tightness, spasms, muscle weakness, tingling, and shooting-type pains.
Lumbar radiculitis affects the lower part of the spine, also known as the lumbar spine, which consists of five vertebrae. Lumbar radicular pain can extend from a person’s lower back to their gluteal muscles, back of the upper thigh, down the calf, and even as far as the foot.
What is the best treatment for radiculitis?
Radiculitis can often be treated without the need for surgery, depending on the severity of pain and symptoms. Some of the interventional pain management techniques that The Spine & Sports Health Center uses for radiculitis and other forms of back pain include:
- Epidural steroid injections
- Nerve blocks
- Spinal cord stimulation; this technique is only used for severe cases of radiculitis that are unresponsive to other forms of treatment and especially for those who have had spine surgery in the past but are still experiencing pain.
Your First Stop for Radiculitis Treatment
The Spine & Sports Health Center should be your first stop for radiculitis pain. Speak with our medical director, on the phone, for free before booking an appointment.