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Radiating Pain & Numbness

Learn about the signs, symptoms and treatments

Nerve symptoms can be an alarming experience for patients. They can include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or a heaviness feeling in the arms or legs. Sometimes these symptoms could be a sign of nerve damage. We take this seriously and want patients to seek medical attention. The longer symptoms persist without medical treatment could affect a patient’s ability to recover and have the symptoms resolve. Even if you think your symptoms are mild, we encourage that you have an evaluation before they could progress and turn into something more serious. A thorough examination and consultation with a spinal specialist can be critical to finding the right diagnosis.

Common Spine Conditions That May Be Causing Your Radiating Pain & Numbness

Disc Herniations

A disc herniation is displacement of disc material beyond the normal confines of the disc space. The terms disc protrusion, disc bulge, disc herniation, ruptured disc, and slipped disc all mean the same thing and imply that disc material has left the normal disc space. If disc material herniates, or squeezes out, this can put pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves. This can cause severe pain in the path of the nerve being pinched. When the nerve root is inflamed, the added pressure may also cause vague, deep pain and/or cause sharp, shooting pain to radiate along the pathway of the nerve.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DISC HERNIATIONS

Radiculopathy / Pinched Nerve

Radiculopathy refers to damage or irritation of the nerve roots that exit the spine, commonly referred to a “pinched nerve.” A nerve exits from the spine and travels in a specific path through the skin and muscles. These paths, called dermatomes, are the same for all people although there may be some slight variation.

Nerves are responsible for these three main functions: pain, sensation, and strength. When a nerve is pinched, pain is usually the first sign of irritation, then sensation changes tend to progress. Pain often is described in a variety of ways such as dully, achy, sharp, shooting. Sensation changes often initially are described as pins and needles or possibly tingling that may progress to numbness. Lastly, strength changes may also be noted. Strength changes may vary from very subtle to quite severe.

LEARN MORE ABOUT RADICULOPATHY / PINCHED NERVE

Sciatica

While sciatica is not an official medical diagnosis, it is a medical term used to describe symptoms of shooting pain, tingling, and numbness down the leg caused by a low back condition. Sciatica is one of the more common terms used when a person is experiencing pain radiating down their leg. You may also hear sciatica called a lumbar radiculopathy. There are many potential causes for sciatica which could put pressure on the sciatic nerve or related nerve roots in your low back to cause symptoms.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SCIATICA

Spinal Stenosis

The spinal cord is a long tubular structure that connects the brain to the peripheral nervous system through spinal nerves, allowing us to move our body, feel our surroundings, and experience pain. The spinal column protects our spinal cord and is made up of bones, joints, discs, soft tissues, and nerves. The spinal cord is housed in the cervical and thoracic spine and normally terminates at the upper lumbar spine where the nerves then spread out and travel freely through the canal. Cervical and thoracic spinal stenosis can cause pressure on the spinal cord and exiting lumbar spine nerves. This can be caused by several factors. If the central spinal canal or the foramen through which the spinal nerves exit becomes narrowed this is considered spinal stenosis.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SPINAL STENOSIS

When to Seek Care for Your Radiating Pain & Numbness

Nerve symptoms can be an alarming experience for patients. They can include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or a heaviness feeling in the arms or legs. Sometimes these symptoms could be a sign of nerve damage. We take this seriously and want patients to seek medical attention. The longer symptoms persist without medical treatment could affect a patient’s ability to recover and have the symptoms resolve. Even if you think your symptoms are mild, we encourage that you have an evaluation before they could progress and turn into something more serious. A thorough examination and consultation with a spinal specialist can be critical to finding the right diagnosis.

  • Pain in the arms or legs
  • Weakness/ numbness/ tingling in the arms or legs
  • Dropping things/ losing control or dexterity in the hands
  • Losing balance

Our Doctors That Treat Radiating Pain & Numbness

Dr. Ehsan Jazini

Spine Surgeon

Dr. Colin Haines

Spine Surgeon
Director of Research

Dr. Christopher Good

Spine Surgeon
President of Virginia Spine Institute

Dr. Thomas Schuler

Spine Surgeon
Founder of Virginia Spine Institute
Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Steven Papuchis

Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Dr. Sommer Ebdlahad

Neurologist

Dr. Niteesh Bharara

Orthopedic Specialist - Non-Surgical Sports Medicine
Director of Regenerative Medicine

Dr. Thomas Nguyen

Interventional Pain Management Specialist

See What Our Patients Are Saying

“DON’T FEAR THE
SPINAL FUSION!”

– Aaron D.

“I’m back to living an active lifestyle after spine surgery!”

– Barbara J.

“Over 7,000 miles of travel was well worth it to receive the best spine care in the world from Virginia Spine Institute!”

– Omar A.

Featured Video About Radiating Pain & Numbness

Sacroiliitis: Back Pain, Hip Pain, or Radiating Pain

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