Treatment of Radicular Pain

Treatment of Radicular Pain

Radicular pain can be debilitating, but there are options. Learn about radicular pain and how to get radicular pain treatment at J. Flowers today.

Table of Contents

What Is Radicular Pain?

Radicular pain is a type of pain that radiates from the back and hips into the legs through the spinal nerve root. This condition happens when the spinal nerve becomes compressed (pinched) or inflamed.

Nerve root pain is typically described as burning or sharp, starting in the back and spreading to other parts of the body connected to the damaged nerve.

Symptoms of Radicular Pain

Nerve root pain symptoms can include:

  • Tingling or numbness
  • Weakness of muscles
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pain in the back, neck, and limbs

Types of Radicular Pain

There are different types of radicular pain that affect different areas of the back. Each affected area may present with different symptoms, though many people with radicular pain in any area experience sensations of numbness, burning, pain, and weakness.

Lumbar Radicular Pain

Occurring in the lower region of the spine, lumbar radicular pain is associated with sciatica (pain that radiates from the back down the legs). Lumbar radicular syndrome is the most common type of radicular pain, affecting 3% to 5% of the population.1

Thoracic Radicular Pain

This type of pain occurs due to a pinched nerve in the upper back and can cause symptoms like tingling, numbness, and pain extending to the front of the body. According to research, thoracic radicular pain occurs between 0.15% and 4% in patients.2

Cervical Radicular Pain

Cervical radicular pain occurs when a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated at the spinal cord. Its symptoms include pain in the shoulders, muscle weakness, and numbness that travels down the shoulder into the arm and hand. Research shows that cervical radicular pain affects eighty-five out of every one hundred thousand people.3

Radicular Pain vs. Radiculopathy

Though these two terms are related, radicular pain and radiculopathy have two separate meanings. Radicular pain happens when pain spreads from an inflamed or compressed nerve root, such as pain in the back that radiates down into the legs.

Radiculopathy, on the other hand, refers to when a compressed or irritated nerve root causes neurological deficits, like problems with reflexes, numbness, or muscle weakness.

What Causes Radicular Pain?

Radicular back pain can have different causes, but all radicular disease stems from changes in the tissues and bones of the spinal vertebrae, tendons, and intervertebral discs surrounding the nerve roots of the spine. When these tissues and bones shift around or change in size, it can narrow the spaces where the nerve roots travel inside the spine or exit the spine. Most of the time, this narrowing is a result of gradual degeneration of the spine that happens naturally as we age.3

Radicular Nerve Pain Origins

Other causes of radicular nerve pain include the following:

  • Herniated discs
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Diabetes
  • Nerve root injuries
  • Scar tissue from spinal surgery

Risk Factors of Experiencing Radicular Pain

Risk factors for developing radicular back pain include:

  • Aging
  • Excess weight
  • Poor posture
  • Improper lifting techniques
  • Repetitive motions
  • Family history of degenerative bone condition

Signs and Symptoms of Radicular Pain

Symptoms of radicular pain will likely include pain, tingling, and numbness.4

Cervical Radicular Pain Symptoms

Cervical radicular pain symptoms include:

  • Pain in the neck, shoulder, upper back, or arm
  • Numbness or weakness, usually experienced on just one side

Thoracic Radicular Pain Symptoms 

Thoracic radicular pain symptoms include:

  • Shooting pain or burning in the ribs, side, back, or abdomen
  • Numbness or tingling

Lumbar Radicular Pain Symptoms

Lumbar radicular pain symptoms include:

  • Sharp pain in the back that extends to the foot
  • Radicular leg pain
  • Sharp pain when coughing or sitting
  • Numbness or weakness in legs and feet
  • Tingling in the back or leg
  • Pain in the arm or shoulder
  • Pain that worsens with movement of the neck or head

How Is Radicular Syndrome Diagnosed?

Radicular Pain Treatment

To diagnose radicular syndrome, doctors will perform examinations of the back, neck, arms, and lower body. They will look for abnormalities and inquire about any pain or other symptoms patients may be experiencing concerning movement, flexibility, sensation, and muscle strength. 

Other diagnostic tools that are often used to diagnose radicular syndrome will be detailed below.


An x-ray can show the bones and anatomy of the spine, which can help the doctor find the source of pain. 

Computed Tomography (CT) Scans

Like an x-ray, a CT scan can help show the anatomy of the spine, revealing how much narrowing or compression may be happening in the spine. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI scans are useful for showing the compression of nerve roots because it gives a detailed picture of soft tissue structures.

Electromyography (EMG)

EMG is a type of nerve testing that measures muscle and nerve response. It can be a useful tool in diagnosing radicular pain.

Radicular Pain Treatment

Finding a radicular pain treatment that works for you is important to improving your pain and, in turn, your quality of life. 

Some people find simple radicular pain treatments that improve their symptoms, such as icing or applying heat to the area of discomfort. Additionally, small lifestyle changes like improving posture and implementing gentle exercise can improve radicular symptoms. It’s important to avoid strenuous activities or actions that are hard on the body, as intense exercise can increase radicular weakness and lead to more pain.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Other non-surgical treatments include:

Surgical Treatment Opportunities

There are also surgical options for radicular pain treatment. These include:4
  • Discectomy, often used for lumbar radicular pain, in which herniated discs are removed to stop irritation of the spine
  • Laminectomy, in which some or all of the vertebral bone is removed, easing pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Laser debridement and facet thermal ablation are minimally invasive procedures that involve removing the nerves causing radiculopathy.

Get Treatment for Radicular Pain at J. Flowers Health

Sometimes, at-home treatment isn’t quite enough to improve radicular pain. In these cases, J. Flowers Health can offer intensive, one-on-one interventions to address pain and find holistic treatments that work for you.

Our in-depth knowledge of chronic pain allows our team to find the root cause of your pain and manage it accordingly. We are committed to helping you with radicular pain every step of the way, from the initial examination all the way to treatment and recovery. Contact us today to learn more at J. Flowers Health.