Radiculopathy is a term used to describe the irritation, injury, or compression of a nerve root. When the affected nerve is located in the lower back, this is called lumbar radiculopathy. Patients suffering from lumbar radiculopathy often report pain, numbness, discomfort, or stiffness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. When the affected nerve is located in the neck or upper back, this is called cervical radiculopathy. Patients suffering from cervical radiculopathy often report similar symptoms as lumbar radiculopathy but in the upper back between the shoulder blades and in the shoulders, neck, arms, and hands
The most common causes of lumbar and cervical radiculopathy are injury, a ruptured disc, degenerative changes (arthritis), and spinal narrowing. Initial treatment will usually be conservative, with a recommendation for physical therapy and pain management (usually corticosteroids, ibuprofen, or naproxen). If pain continues after some time, doctors may prescribe steroid injections to block nerve pain, or even surgery.