What Can Cause Lumbar Radiculitis and How is it Treated?
What is Lumbar Radiculitis?
Lumbar Radiculitis is a pathological condition of the lumbar spine in which the patient experiences severe pain in the back which radiates to the legs and lower extremities. The symptoms experienced by the patient suffering from Lumbar Radiculitis depend on which nerve root in the lumbar spine is affected. Treatment for Lumbar Radiculitis includes conservative treatments in the form of lifestyle changes, physical therapy and steroid injections. In some surgery may be necessary to decompress the impinged nerve root and relieve the symptoms.
What Can Cause Lumbar Radiculitis?
In majority of the cases, Lumbar Radiculitis occurs due to some abnormality or defect in the lumbar spine resulting in compression of the nerve roots. Some of abnormalities that may cause nerve root impingement are herniated disc, disc bulging, formation of bone spurs, and a medical condition called as spondylolisthesis. All of these can be caused due to various reasons which include trauma to the lumbar spine or degeneration of the lumbar spine as a result of age and normal wear and tear of the spine, overuse of the spine by doing activities like repetitive heavy lifting at work, prolonged standing or walking, inappropriate sitting posture putting lot of pressure on the back. In some cases, degeneration of the spine may also have a genetic link to it. Apart from these other risk factors for degeneration of the lumbar spine resulting in Lumbar Radiculitis are smoking and obese body habitus.
What are the Symptoms of Lumbar Radiculitis?
As stated, the symptoms experienced by the patient suffering from lumbar radiculitis depend on the spinal nerve root that is affected but there are some symptoms which are common for all regions of the lumbar spine. These symptoms are severe low back pain with radiation of pain to the hips and to the lower extremities, severe pain in the hip and buttock region, stabbing pain behind the legs. All these pain may worsen with certain activities like bending, twisting or lifting. Lying down and resting may bring some relief.
How is Lumbar Radiculitis Diagnosed?
To diagnose Lumbar Radiculitis, the physician will first do tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Once that is done, a series of radiological studies will be done in the form of x-rays, CT scan and MRI scans to look at the internal structures of the lumbar spine and see which part of the nerve is getting compressed and causing symptoms. Additionally, tests like EMG and nerve conduction study may also be performed to check which nerve roots are getting affected due to compression so that a treatment plan can be formulated.
How is Lumbar Radiculitis Treated?
Majority of the cases of Lumbar Radiculitis are treated conservatively with a combination of physical therapy and antiinflammatory medications. The pharmacological treatments recommended for Lumbar Radiculitis are utilizing pain medications or antiinflammatory medications to control pain and inflammation. Non-pharmacological treatments consist of spine specific physical therapy for strengthening the lumbar spine. Lifestyle modifications in the form of good sitting posture and smoking cessation is also essential is treating the symptoms of Lumbar Radiculitis. Invasive treatments in the form of epidural steroid injections are also useful for treating pain symptoms caused due to Lumbar Radiculitis but the effect lasts only for a short period of time. In case if all conservative measures fail to relieve the symptoms then the patient may be recommended to undergo surgery to decompress the nerve root and relieve the symptoms caused due to Lumbar Radiculitis.