The cause of radiculopathy, not to be confused with neuropathy, is unique to each of those who suffer from this debilitating condition. Radiculopathy is defined as a spinal cord disease that is often caused by the bulging of the anulus fibrosis. This often leads to "radiating" pain along dermatomal distributions. A dermatomal distribution chart, created by biomedical illustrator Andrew Tran, can be seen below. This bulging may protrude enough to contact an adjacent nerve root. A firm piece of nucleus pulposus may also emerge through a rent in the anulus to become trapped in the spinal cord.
Radiculopathy can be diagnosed through a number of methods. Firstly, the diagnosis of bulging on the anulus fibrosis, or notation of nucleus pulposus in the spinal cord may be detected upon radiological imaging studies, such as an MRI or a CT scan. Additionally, this can be diagnosed upon physical examination, through light palpation and sensory testing along the determined dermatome.
Minimally invasive treatments are available through methods including Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injections for radiating pain along the L5-S1 dermatomes of the lower extremities, and Cervical Epidural Steroid Injections for pain radiating along the upper extremities. Selective Nerve Root Blocks (known as Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injections) may also be used as a form of treatment for radiating pain to the feet with associated numbness with tingling sensations. A facetectomy or foramenotomy may also be used in relieving the compression causing radiculopathy.