Most commonly found in the lower back and neck, radiculopathy is a result of a compressed or irritated nerve exiting the spine, most commonly in the neck and lower back areas.
The condition causes pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs.
Disc herniations, bone spurs, and the thickening of ligaments are the most likely causes of the condition, reducing space win the spinal canal and compressing the exiting nerve. Infections, tumors, and diabetes have also been know to accelerate the condition.
Activities that place an excessive or repetitive load on the spine, such as contact sports and heavy labour, increase the risk of developing radiculopathy. A family history of spine disorders also increases risk.
Information comes courtesy of MedicineNet.
Spinal Cord Stimulator
Spinal cord stimulation is a form of electrical neurostimulation designed to reduce chronic pain felt by patients in their back and limbs as a result of various conditions including failed back surgery syndrome, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and peripheral neuropathy. Rather than directly targeting the source of chronic pain, SCS interferes with the transmission of pain signals from certain nerves, preventing the brain from fully recognizing sensations of pain. The implantation of a spinal cord stimulator comprises three stages. The first is a psychological evaluation, which is required by insurance. The purpose is to resolve any psychological contraindications to the procedure beforehand. The second stage is a trial phase lasting typically between five and seven days. In this phase, electrodes are implanted in the epidural space using a technique very similar to a standard epidural injection. The electrodes are then activated to determine whether the stimulation is effectively relieving the pain. If the trial stage is successful, the patient returns to have the electrodes removed. A permanent device is then implanted through a simple outpatient surgical procedure. The strength of electrical stimulation can be changed by the attending physician or patient to adjust to shifting pain levels, providing adaptive, optimal pain relief in the process. For more information visit http://www.medtronic.com/patients/chronic-pain/living-with/index.htm
Transforaminal Epidural Injection
A transforaminal epidural is another way to introduce saline, local anesthetic and steroid medication into the spine to reduce the inflammation of spinal nerve roots and their surrounding tissues. The transforaminal epidural is a well-renowned treatment for its ability to accurately pinpoint a specific spinal nerve root level. In this procedure, a needle is guided into the foramen section of a patient’s spine using fluoroscopic imaging. The foramen is the hole on the side of the spine, through which nerves extend to a patient’s arms, neck, legs and lower back. The local anesthetic administered usually takes effect immediately, while a steroid solution can take between three and five days to provide anti-inflammatory benefits, which can last up to several months.
Lumbar and Cervical Epidural
An epidural is the therapeutic injection of a pain relieving drug or steroid which is injected into the epidural space of the spinal canal. Lumbar and cervical epidurals can be administered at any place along the spine, from the cervical (neck) area, to the thoracic (middle) section and lumbar (lower) region. Similar to nerve blocks, epidural injections decrease the inflammatory factors located in a patient’s spine. The treatment usually requires two to three days to take effect, peaking within seven days and providing up to two months of consistent relief before the numbing effect subsides. The lengthy effect of the epidural makes it an effective means of managing chronic pain among long-term sufferers.
Image-guided Nerve Blocks and Injection Therapies
Image-guided nerve blocks and injection therapies allow specialists to treat pain in a specific part of the body, such as an organ or a limb. Targeting an isolated group of nerves that carry the pain sensation from the affected area, a needle is inserted in the spine and guided to the area where the nerve or nerve cluster is irritated. Using the imaging technique of fluoroscopy to track the needle’s movement, local anesthetic is then administered to numb acute pain. Steroids can also be used to control nerve inflammation. Nerve blocks can be used for different reasons associated with chronic pain. While therapeutic nerve blocks control pain associated with various conditions, Diagnostic and Prognostic nerve blocks help to determine the source of a pain and predict the outcome of certain treatment respectively. Preemptive nerve blocs are also used before certain procedures to prevent ensuing discomfort.
Chronic Pain Management
Chronic pain refers to any pain lasting in excess of six months. There is no clear cause, as the term applies to any long-term discomfort arising from an initial injury. Chronic pain can occur in virtually any part of the human body and often contributes to other residual health problems including fatigue, decreased appetite, mood swings, and a lack of mobility. These difficulties negatively affect a person’s ability to lead a comfortable lifestyle. Many advances in modern medicine are helping people to manage their chronic pain more effectively to reduce suffering and enhance a patient’s quality of life and functionality. We will fully evaluate your condition and design a holistic, individually tailored plan to help you return to your life.