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Terms For Nerve Pain: Radiculopathy, Radiculitis, Neuritis

 Are treatments more successful when patients know key terms that describe their back pain and associated conditions?

Terms For Nerve Pain: Radiculopathy, Radiculitis, Neuritis

Nerve Pain Types

When individuals need to better understand their spine diagnosis, being able to distinguish between key terms can make a significant difference in understanding the development of a personalized treatment plan. Terms that describe back pain and various associated conditions can include:

  • Sciatica
  • Radiating and Referred pain
  • Radiculopathy
  • Radiculitis
  • Neuropathy
  • Neuritis

Causes of Back Pain

Back pain symptoms are most commonly caused by the continued practice of unhealthy/poor posture and overcompensated and weakened muscles. Even for individuals that exercise regularly, the movement choices that are made throughout the day can disrupt the way the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia function to maintain proper body alignment.

  • Injuries to, and conditions of, the structures of the spinal column like the bones, discs, and nerves, are generally more serious than posture problems and soft tissue-related pain.
  • Depending on the diagnosis, structural problems can cause symptoms related to nerve compression, irritation, and/or inflammation. (Michigan Medicine, 2022)

Spine and Nervous System

  • The peripheral nerves extend out to the extremities with sensation and movement capabilities.
  • Nerve roots exit the spinal canal which is part of the peripheral nervous system.
  • The spinal nerve root then exits the spinal column through the foramen. (American Academy of Neurological Surgeons, 2023)
  • The branching of nerves from the spinal cord and exit out of the foramina occurs at every level of the spine.

Terms

There are different medical terms when getting a spine diagnosis or going through the treatment process.

Radiculopathy

  • Radiculopathy is an umbrella term, describing any disease process that affects a spinal nerve root and is something that’s happening to the body.
  • When a healthcare provider informs you that your pain is due to radiculopathy, a number of more specific diagnoses, clinical signs, and symptoms may be included as part of the description.
  • Common causes of radiculopathy include herniated disc/s and spinal stenosis.
  • Less common causes can include a synovial cyst or tumor that presses on the nerve root. (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2023)
  • Radiculopathy can occur in the neck, low back, or in the thoracic area.
  • Often, radiculopathy is brought on by some form of compression of the nerve root.
  • For example, extruded material from a herniated disc can land on a nerve root, causing pressure to build.
  • This can cause symptoms associated with radiculopathy, including numbness, weakness, pain, or electrical sensations. (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2023)

Even though there’s a spinal nerve root on either side of the spinal column, injury, trauma, or issues stemming from degeneration affect the nerves in an asymmetric fashion. Degenerative changes, known as normal wear and tear, typically occur in this fashion. Using the previous herniated disc example, the material that leaks from the disc structure tends to travel in one direction. When this is the case, the symptoms tend to be experienced on the side where the nerve root makes contact with the disc material, but not the other side. (American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2023)

Radiculitis

  • Radiculitis is a form of radiculopathy but it is about inflammation and not compression. (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2023)
  • Radicu– refers to the spinal nerve root.
  • The suffix  – itis refers to inflammation.
  • The word refers to a spinal nerve root that is inflamed and/or irritated rather than compressed.
  • In disc herniations, it is the gel substance that contains various chemicals that is inflammatory.
  • When the gel substance makes contact with nerve roots, an inflammatory response is triggered. (Rothman SM, Winkelstein BA 2007)

Radiating or Referred Pain

  • Radiating pain follows the path of one of the peripheral nerves that transmit sensory information like heat, cold, pins and needles, and pain.
  • The most common cause of radiating pain is impingement/compression of a spinal nerve root. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo)
  • Referred pain is experienced in a different area of the body that is away from the pain source which tends to be an organ. (Murray GM., 2009)
  • It can be brought on by myofascial trigger points or visceral activity.
  • An example of referred pain is symptoms in the jaw or arm when an individual is having a heart attack. (Murray GM., 2009)

Radicular

  • The terms radicular pain and radiculopathy tend to get confused.
  • Radicular pain is a symptom of radiculopathy.
  • Radicular pain radiates from the spinal nerve root to either part or all the way down the limb/extremity.
  • However, radicular pain does not represent the complete symptoms of radiculopathy.
  • Radiculopathy symptoms also include numbness, weakness, or electrical sensations like pins and needles, burning, or shock that travels down the extremity. (Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2023)

Neuropathy

  • Neuropathy is another umbrella term that refers to any dysfunction or disease that affects the nerves.
  • It’s usually classified according to the cause, like diabetic neuropathy, or the location.
  • Neuropathy can occur anywhere in the body – including the peripheral nerves, the autonomic nerves/organ nerves, or nerves that are located inside the skull and innervate the eyes, ears, nose, etc.
  • An example of peripheral neuropathy is carpal tunnel syndrome. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. 2023)
  • One spinal condition that is known to cause peripheral neuropathy is spinal stenosis. (Bostelmann R, Zella S, Steiger HJ, et al., 2016)
  • In this condition, changes in the foramina have a narrowing effect on the space that begins to compress the nerves as they exit.
  • Neuropathy can affect just one nerve or many nerves simultaneously.
  • When multiple nerves are involved it is known as polyneuropathy.
  • When it’s just one, it’s known as mononeuropathy. (Cleveland Clinic. 2023)

Neuritis

Sciatica

  • Sciatica describes symptoms that include radiating pain and sensations that travel into the hip, buttock, leg, and foot.
  • One of the most common causes of sciatica is radiculopathy.
  • Another is spinal stenosis. (Cleveland Clinic. 2023)
  • Piriformis syndrome is where a tight buttock/piriformis muscle constricts the sciatic nerve, which runs underneath. (Cass SP. 2015)

Chiropractic

Chiropractic adjustments, non-surgical decompression, MET, and various massage therapies can relieve symptoms, release stuck or trapped nerves and restore function. Through the treatments, the chiropractor and therapists will explain what is happening and why they are using a specific technique. Knowing a little about how the neuromusculoskeletal system operates can help the healthcare provider and the patient in developing and adjusting effective treatment strategies.


Sciatica During Pregnancy


References

Michigan Medicine. Upper and Middle Back Pain.

American Academy of Neurological Surgeons. Anatomy of the Spine and Peripheral Nervous System.

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Health Conditions. Radiculopathy.

American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Herniated Disc.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Cervical Radiculopathy (Pinched Nerve).

Rothman, S. M., & Winkelstein, B. A. (2007). Chemical and mechanical nerve root insults induce differential behavioral sensitivity and glial activation that are enhanced in combination. Brain Research, 1181, 30–43. doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2007.08.064

Murray G. M. (2009). Guest Editorial: referred pain. Journal of applied oral science: Revista FOB, 17(6), i. doi.org/10.1590/s1678-77572009000600001

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Bostelmann, R., Zella, S., Steiger, H. J., & Petridis, A. K. (2016). Could Spinal Canal Compression be a Cause of Polyneuropathy? Clinics and practice, 6(1), 816. doi.org/10.4081/cp.2016.816

Cleveland Clinic. Mononeuropathy.

American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Glossary of Neurosurgical Terminology.

National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. Peripheral Nerve Disorders.

Cleveland Clinic. Spinal Stenosis.

Cass S. P. (2015). Piriformis syndrome: a cause of non-discogenic sciatica. Current sports medicine reports 14(1), 41–44. doi.org/10.1249/JSR.0000000000000110

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Terms For Nerve Pain: Radiculopathy, Radiculitis, Neuritis" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

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Disclaimer *

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

phone: 915-850-0900

Licensed in Texas & New Mexico *

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM, IFMCP, ATN, CCST
My Digital Business Card

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Running Foot Numbness: EP Chiropractic Injury Team" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card

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