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Lumbar Radiculopathy

What is Lumbar Radiculopathy?

Lumbar radiculopathy, also called sciatica, is a condition of the lower spine, where nerve roots exit the spine to enter the legs. If a nerve root in any of the five lumbar vertebrae is irritated or compressed by injury, pain can radiate from the affected spinal nerve root down the nerves of the legs. The result is sciatica, the most common manifestation of lumbar radiculopathy.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we first investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, our team works closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care plan. While you are with us, you can expect expert care, excellent communication and genuine compassion.

Causes of Lumbar Radiculopathy

Sciatica is most commonly caused by compression of the last lumbar vertebra (L5) and the first sacral vertebra (S1). Other causes are a lumbar herniated disc, bone spurs, spinal arthritis, scoliosis, compression fractures, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and nerve root injuries. Risk factors include aging, being overweight, poor posture, repetitive motion, and a family history of degenerative bone conditions.

Early Signs of Lumbar Radiculopathy and Diagnosis

Sciatica varies in intensity, frequency, and duration. Symptoms include a sharp or burning pain that travels down the leg and makes walking and standing uncomfortable; sharp or burning pain that worsens when sitting; a steady pain in one leg or buttock; muscle spasms; numbness in the feet and legs; and a feeling of weakness in the legs or difficulty moving the lower extremities.

Our spine specialists diagnose sciatica with X-ray, MRI, or CT scans, and electromyography to test nerve function.

Treatment

The majority of patients with sciatica recover without surgery. Treatment may include physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral corticosteroids, and epidural steroid injections or nerve root injections administered by a pain management specialist.  

People who do not respond to these conservative treatments and still experience pain may be candidates for surgery to treat the cause of the nerve compression, such as lumbar microdiscectomy or lumbar laminectomy.

The UTHealth Neurosciences Spine Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists who work together to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. People who suffer from radiculopathy, spondylosis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, peripheral nerve disorders, spinal cord injury, or other trauma benefit from our collaborative expertise in managing spine disorders.

Spine Disease and Back Pain


Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8100, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.


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