Radiculopathy is characterized by:

  • Pain. For cervical radiculopathies, the pain often radiates from the neck and down the arm (sometimes to the shoulder/scapula). For lumbar and lumbosacral radiculopathies, the pain radiates from the low back down the buttock and leg.
  • Numbness or tingling. These sensory changes may be present in the arm/hand or leg/foot.
  • Weakness. For a cervical radiculopathy, you may have weakness in your arm/hand and notice that you drop things or have difficulty lifting things. For a lumbar radiculopathy, you may have weakness in your leg/foot and notice that you have trouble walking and catch your toe on things.
  • Bladder or bowel changes. Less commonly, the nerves affecting the bladder and bowel can become compressed and contribute to loss of control and incontinence of bladder or bowel function.

The symptoms associated with radiculopathy are typically unilateral (affecting one side of the body). The pain can worsen with certain movements of the neck or low back, with prolonged sitting or walking, and sometimes with coughing or sneezing.

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