Radicular syndrome is caused by compressed or irritated nerve roots. The nerve roots are branches of the spinal cord that carry signals out to the rest of the body at each level along the spine.
Radicular syndrome results in pain and other symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms or legs. The quality and type of pain can vary, from dull, aching and difficult to localize, to sharp and burning.
Physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, patient education and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication are the most common non-invasive treatment options for most patients with no evidence of significant muscle weakness caused by radicular syndrome. Epidural steroid injections may also be considered for severe cases. As discussed earlier, muscle weakness is a concerning sign of nerve root compression or radicular syndrome. Nerve testing (electromyography or EMG) may be indicated to objectively test the condition of the nerve-muscle connection, particularly if strength testing is limited by pain. If a patient suffers from actual nerve injury, surgery may be indicated to relieve the pressure on the nerves. In other situations, surgery may be offered if the non-surgical treatment options have failed to improve the symptoms of radicular syndrome. It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you.