Can Lumbar Radiculopathy Be Treated Without Surgery?

Category: Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Trapped Spinal Nerves

Lumbar radiculopathy is the medical term that describes what happens when a nerve in your lower back becomes compressed or damaged. Oftentimes this impingement involves the largest nerve in your body – the sciatic nerve – but there are a number of nerves that traverse through the lower spine that can become impinged along the way. Your spine specialist can use a physical exam and some diagnostic imaging tests to pinpoint the impingement, but once a nerve is compressed or damaged, does that mean surgery is in your future? Below, we explain if lumbar radiculopathy can be treated without a surgical procedure.

Non-Operative Treatments For Lumbar Radiculopathy

Fortunately, lumbar nerve impingement can oftentimes be treated successfully without the need for surgery, but you may need to pursue one or more treatments. Here’s a look at four conservative care options that are oftentimes used in conjunction with one another to alleviate pain caused by lumbar radiculopathy:

  1. Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is a wonderful technique that can help treat a wide range of issues, including lumbar radiculopathy. Physical therapy can strengthen different structures in your spine and core that can take pressure off the area that’s impairing the nerve. If your spine is stronger and better able to handle the stress you throw at it, it’s less likely that an inflammatory response will be triggered as a result of the strain on your spine. Inflammation oftentimes impinges structures and is the underlying cause of lumbar radiculopathy, so PT can help ward it off.
  2. Weight Loss – Being overweight can also mean that your lower spine has to handle more strain when you move and sit, and as we talked about in the first point, this additional stress can trigger an inflammatory reaction and cause nerve pain. Oftentimes losing just a little weight can take a lot of stress off structures in your lumbar spine, and that can drastically reduce your risk of lumbar radiculopathy symptoms. Dietary improvements and regular exercise can help to fuel weight loss and relieve your nerve pain.
  3. Muscle Relaxers – Muscles relaxers are strong medications that can help to calm muscle spasms and quell inflammation that could be contributing to your lumbar radiculopathy. However, these medications won’t resolve your issue on their own. You’ll want to pair muscle relaxers with other active treatments like physical therapy and exercise to drive home the best results.
  4. Posture Improvements – Finally, your posture may be playing a big role in your lumbar radiculopathy symptom onset. The way you sit can impact the openings through which spinal nerves pass en route to their destination. If you have poor posture, this opening can narrow, and that can contribute to nerve impingement or damage. Simple posture improvements can go a long way in treating lumbar radiculopathy, especially if paired with other techniques on this list.

For more information on how you can combat your lumbar nerve pain, or to talk to a spine specialist about a different issue you’re dealing with, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.

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