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Lumbar Radiculopathy: What Is It and How Can I Treat It?
Lumbar radiculopathy is a condition that affects the spinal nerve root in the lumbar vertebrae. This ailment can cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the buttocks and legs. It is also known as sciatica.
Lumbar radiculopathy is one of the main diagnoses of neurosurgeons and affects up to five percent of Americans. Fortunately, it can be treated with a variety of remedies and lifestyle changes.
The prime reason for lumbar radiculopathy is usually a compression of the spinal nerve root. This can be caused by constant straining of the lower back. It can also be caused by lumbar disc herniation, spinal stenosis, osteophyte formation, spondylolisthesis, foraminal stenosis, or other degenerative disorders.
Though most symptoms of sciatica go away naturally, in some cases, the pain can become chronic. If your pain is severe, you may need surgery.
Taking the necessary precautions early can prevent serious health issues. Even if you feel fine now, it is worthwhile to begin taking steps to protect your back.
If you’re looking for more information on lumbar radiculopathy and how you can treat it, we’ve got you covered. Read more with all33 below!
One of the most effective ways to relieve symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy is physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you target the areas in your back that need to be tended to. They can also teach you how to properly address those areas of pain.
Exercising under the expertise of a physical therapist is the key focus of conservative treatment of back pain. A custom routine developed for your back pain can help build the strength of muscles that support your spine while improving the mechanics of movement.
Also, your physical therapist will help you set up a custom treatment program that you can employ at home. Continuing your exercises outside of your therapy space can help dramatically speed up your recovery.
Depending on the severity of your injury, healing can occur within four to eight weeks. In order to achieve a timetable that fast, though, you need to incorporate exercises targeted toward posture, pain reduction, flexibility, and muscle strengthening.
Though exercise is encouraged to strengthen and loosen up your back, you should avoid strenuous activity in the first 24 to 48 hours of being diagnosed with lumbar radiculopathy. Don’t lift heavy objects. Don’t sleep for too long. Stay away from soft chairs or deep-cushioned sofas.
You should also stay fairly active, taking short walks a few times a day. Consistent, light movement will help reduce pain and stiffness. If your pain is severe, apply ice to the affected area for fifteen to twenty minutes. Allow for two hours to pass between icing sessions.
There are also a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that help with lumbar radiculopathy. Some medications that can help symptoms include analgesics, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants. Speak with a physical therapist and health provider to see if these medicines should be included in your treatment plan.
Be wary, though, that many pharmaceutical drugs are accompanied by harmful side effects and risk of dependence. If you decide to engage in drug therapy, plan to use it short-term. Drug therapy is best used to relieve symptoms of pain while you wait for other methods of treatment to take effect.
You can also try alternative treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic care to relieve symptoms of pain. Electrical nerve stimulation and biofeedback may also be helpful.
When the location of nerve compression is identified, corticosteroid injections, nerve blocks, and nerve ablations could be effective. However, you should only use these treatment methods under the guidance of an experienced medical provider.
It can also be very impactful to make accommodations in your lifestyle to protect your back. For one, you should make sure you’re sleeping, standing, and sitting with proper posture.
When sleeping, lie on your back and use a pillow to keep your legs elevated. Invest in a mattress that is firm enough to support your back, but soft enough to move with the natural curve of your back.
While standing, you should keep your back straight and relaxed, distributing weight evenly to all sides of your body. Your shoulders should also be relaxed and centered.
The most important activity to practice good posture with is sitting. Generally, we spend the most amount of time sitting, compared to any other position. If you work in an office setting, you might find yourself sitting at a desk for up to eight hours a day.
To sit properly, keep your chest raised, look forward, and straighten your back. Make sure your knees are level with your hips. Also, make sure that there is ample space between the back of your knees and the edge of your chair.
To truly find the perfect sitting position that suits your spine, you’re going to need an ergonomic chair. Ergonomic chairs allow for the adjustment of the seat, arms, backrest, and headrest to fit your body as accurately as possible.
Additionally, it is useful to identify what movements every day cause your back the most strain. Once you can pinpoint these movements, you can work to find alternatives to them. For instance, if you find that lifting weights causes you significant back pain, you can take extra time before workouts to stretch your back and avoid exercises that put considerable pressure on your back.
It is possible that your lumbar radiculopathy is being aggravated by your diet. When you’re in the process of recovering, you should avoid eating processed foods that are high in refined sugar and trans fats. These types of foods may cause inflammation in the body, including near your spinal nerve roots.
Foods that are high in refined sugar and trans fats include baked goods, margarine, non-dairy creamers, fried foods, some vegetable oils, and more.
Your weight can also affect the health of your spine. Losing a few pounds can take some considerable strain off of your spinal column.
Dealing with chronic pain can cause significant physical and emotional distress. If you feel symptoms of mood swings, anger, anxiety, and/or depression, you’re not alone. It is completely normal to be feeling frustrated, dejected, or overwhelmed by your condition.
If your mental health has been affected by lumbar radiculopathy, you could benefit from meditation. There are an abundance of meditative therapies effective in mood regulation, including yoga, tai chi, and controlled breathing exercises.
Sometimes, chronic pain can be treated by diverting your attention from the feeling of pain. It can also help you to become at peace with your condition and accept it for what it is. Changing your outlook on your pain can work wonders for your recovery.
Some studies have shown that meditation can change the structure of the brain over time, allowing chronic pain patients to no longer feel their symptoms as intensely as before. This change occurs in the limbic system, the part of our brains that control emotions. It also alters the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that are responsible for thinking, making decisions, and solving problems.
Chronic pain changes the way these two regions of the brain communicate with each other, weakening the prefrontal cortex overall and increasing activity in the limbic system.
Living With Lumbar Radiculopathy
Different people have different reactions to treatments, so you may need to experiment a little and find what works for you. One treatment that may be effective on another person might have little to no effect on you. If you try one of these methods and it’s ineffective, don’t be discouraged.
The first step in treating lumbar radiculopathy is to identify what is causing it. An orthopedist can assist with this task.
Your orthopedist will view your medical history and conduct a physical examination, where they will locate areas of limited movement in the spine. They will also look for balance issues, loss of extremity reflexes, muscle weakness, sensory loss, or unnatural reflexes that suggest damage to the spinal cord.
If you’ve done absolutely everything you can to treat your condition but are still feeling pain, you may need further medical assistance. In this case, you should seek an X-ray or MRI to precisely diagnose your issue.
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Our chairs make it simple and easy to sit with great posture. All33 chairs are built to fit the natural curve of your spine and move with your body as you sit. Furthermore, our chairs feature foldaway arms so you can get as close to your desk as possible and avoid leaning forward and straining your back.