Lumbar and Cervical Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
Dr. Howard Liss treats disorders that cause pain and disability by providing consultative services and soft tissue and joint injections when needed. When medically appropriate, he makes specific referrals for diagnostic testing (lab work, imaging, electrodiagnosis), physical and occupational therapy, interventional procedures (epidurals and facet joint injections), and surgery.
Radiculopathy is a condition in which a nerve in the spine is compressed, injured or inflamed. It can cause pain, tingling, numbness or a feeling of weakness in the affected nerve. While individuals can experience symptoms of radiculopathy in any area of the spine, it is most common in the lumbar and cervical regions.
Due to lifestyle, including activities, contact sports, family history or body type, some individuals may be more at risk for radiculopathy. For instance, those involved in heavy labor are naturally more susceptible to radiculopathy than those who work in an office. In turn, individuals may be more at risk for radiculopathy if they are obese or if there is a family history of spine conditions. Even so, causes of radiculopathy are herniated discs, osteophytes (bone spurs from osteoarthritis), thick ligaments, tumors, infection and scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine.
Symptoms associated with radiculopathy vary, depending on which nerves along the spine are affected. For example, when nerves are affected in the cervical spine, individuals may experience localized neck or upper back and shoulder pain, including numbness or tingling in the arms. On the other hand, lumbar radiculopathy manifests as low back pain that may result in radiating pain, numbness or tingling in the buttocks, hips and legs. When lumbar radiculopathy involves pain in a lower extremity such as the leg, it is called sciatica.
Non-Surgical Treatment for Lumbar and Cervical Radiculopathy
With a primary focus on reducing pain and improving function, physiatrists consider multiple systems and a wide variety of conditions that may contribute to a patient’s pain. Physiatrists are well-positioned to oversee treatment that focuses on the whole body—not just one area or symptom.
Reducing pain and inflammation (through ice packs or epidural steroid injections), patients experience an improved level of functioning and can move forward with rehabilitation such as physical therapy, exercise or massage. These non-surgical treatments not only help patients, they provide important diagnostic information to the physiatrist. Thus, treatment for lumbar and cervical radiculopathy is not achieved through a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, a personalized treatment protocol is designed and other medical specialists are brought on board when necessary to empower and educate patients. They do this by generating an awareness of proper body mechanics and providing braces, orthotics or other devices when necessary.
Without question, patients benefit from conservative treatments for back and neck pain. While pain is reduced, healing is promoted and patients learn specific exercises, stretches and activities that will help them avoid excessive strain and nerve damage.
At the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute, patients can rely on Dr. Liss to put together the right treatment, therapy and rehabilitation plan to ensure the most optimal outcome. Dr. Liss works closely with other specialists required to rehabilitate patients suffering from chronic pain or serious injuries, and Dr. Liss will refer patients as needed to ensure appropriate treatment. With extensive education and exposure to a variety of conditions that affect the cervical and lumbar spine, bones, nerves, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, brain, and spinal cord, Dr. Liss is uniquely positioned to help patients manage their pain and maximize their functioning.
To schedule your appointment, contact the Howard Liss, M.D. Rehabilitation Institute in Tenafly today.