Lumbar radiculopathy (also known as sciatica or radiculitis) refers to a spinal condition that happens when the spinal nerve in your low back is
and this causes pain or other symptoms that can extend from the low back to the hip, leg, or foot.
Lumbar radiculopathy can be caused by sudden trauma or by long-term stress affecting structures in the back. Most of the time, it affects patients who are aged 30 to 50 years.
Risk factors for lumbar radiculopathy include
Good news is that majority of lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica cases recover without surgery, and respond well to spinal physiotherapy.
Our senior physiotherapists design individualized physiotherapy treatment programs to help patients with lumbar radiculopathy
Our spine is made up of 33 vertebrae (bones) stacked on top of each other like a column.
On each side of every vertebra are openings in the bone through which nerve roots and nerves exit the spinal canal and travel out to the
And between each vertebra is a piece of cartilage called an "intervertebral disc" that acts like a shock-absorbing cushion between the vertebrae.
However, any injuries that happen close to the spine can cause pressure or injury to the nerves and nerve roots.
These injuries may include:
Conditions that can cause lumbar radiculopathy to develop over time include:
Sudden injury can happen with a fall, when a person lifts an object awkwardly (with poor posture or angle), or through trauma such as a car accident. Also, spinal structures surrounding the spine, such as ligaments or nerves, can also be injured.
A slow onset of lumbar radiculopathy can occur from sitting or standing with poor posture (slumped forward) for weeks, months, or years. Poor posture can slowly overstretch ligaments in the back, allowing pressure to slowly build on our spinal nerves.
As that pressure increases, the pain can travel farther out along the path of the nerve, causing discomfort in the hip, leg, or foot.
Lumbar radiculopathy can cause
The location of the pain will change and vary depending on which nerve in the back is affected and how much (or severe) it is irritated. More and greater irritation causes the pain to spread farther, and this spreading pain usually affects 1 leg, but sometimes may affect both legs.
Pain and other symptoms can be constant or come and go, and can vary in intensity.
If a nerve or nerve root is severely pinched or compressed it can cause
Surgery may be recommended in more severe cases. On rare occasions, nerve compression can cause bladder control or bowel function problems, in which case immediate surgery is required and recommended.
Our senior physiotherapist can help determine the details of your
condition and whether consultation with a an orthopedic surgeon is necessary. We will work with your surgeon to ensure your best treatment and outcomes.
Lumbar radiculopathy can cause a variety of symptoms.
The type and location of your symptoms will depend on the amount of pressure being placed on the affected nerve(s).
Symptoms may include:
The pain or other symptoms can occur in one leg or both legs.
They can be in different locations at different times, and can change depending on your activity or body positioning. For example, pain can lessen or worsen when walking versus sitting, or lying down versus standing up.
Our senior physical therapist will conduct a thorough evaluation that includes taking your health history. We also will ask you detailed questions about your injury, such as:
We will perform tests on your body to identify problems, such as:
If we find any of the above problems, physical therapy treatment may have to begin right away, to help get you on the road to recovery and back to your normal activities.
If testing indicates any concerns, wet will consult your physician or surgeon regarding the need for special diagnostic testing, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Do be assured that we work and communicate closely with physicians and other health care providers to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis, treatment, and the care you need.
In all but the most extreme cases of lumbar radiculopathy, conservative care (such as physiotherapy) often results in better and faster results than surgery or pain medication (such as opioid medication).
Our senior physiotherapist will work with you to design a specific treatment program that will accelerate your recovery, including exercises and treatments that you can do at home.
Physical therapy will help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities and the time it takes for lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica to heal varies, but improvement may be achieved in 6 to 8 weeks, when a proper posture, pain reduction, stretching, and strengthening program is implemented.
During the first 24 to 48 hours following your diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy, we may advise you to:
Some exercises are better for individuals with lumbar radiculopathy. Our senior physiotherapist will educate you about them. For example:
Your physical therapist will work with you to:
Reduce pain and other symptoms
We will help you understand how to avoid or modify the activities that caused the injury, so healing can begin. We may use different types of treatments and technologies to control and reduce your pain and symptoms. Your treatment, based on your condition, may include
We will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in any stiff joints. These might begin with "passive" motions that we will do for you to move your spine, and progress to active exercises and stretches that you do yourself.
You can also perform these motions at home and in your workplace to help hasten healing and pain relief.
We will determine if any of the involved muscles are tight, start helping you to stretch them, and teach you how to stretch them at home.
If we find any weak or injured muscles, we will teach you the correct exercises to steadily restore your strength and agility. “Core strengthening and stabilization” exercises are commonly used to restore the strength and coordination of muscles around your back, hips, abdomen, and pelvis.
Restoring muscular endurance is important after an injury. We will develop a program of activities to help you regain the endurance you had before the injury, and improve it.
We will teach you how to improve your posture so that pressure is reduced in the injured area, and healing can begin and progress as rapidly as possible.
Learn a home program
We will teach you strengthening, stretching, and pain reduction exercises to perform at home. These exercises will be specific for your needs; if you do them as prescribed, you can speed your recovery.
Return to activities
We will discuss your activity levels with you and use them to set your work, sport, and home-life recovery goals. Your physiotherapy treatment program will help you reach your goals in the safest, fastest, and most effective way possible.
For spine and leg pain from lumbar radiculopathy, we may teach you correct ways to lift objects (called “body mechanics”) that will help protect your spine from aggravating symptoms.
Once your pain is under control or gone, it will be important for you to continue your new posture and movement habits to keep your back healthy and pain free.
In some cases, corrective spinal surgery is necessary to prevent further damage. If you undergo surgery for your lumbar radiculopathy, our senior physiotherapist s will work closely with you and your surgeon to help you regain motion and strength more quickly than you could on your own, and help you get back to your normal lifestyle as quickly as possible.