To understand what radiculopathy is, it is helpful to know a little bit about the anatomy of your spine. The spine is made of 33 bones called vertebrae, and your spinal cord (the bundle of nerves that connects your brain to your body) runs through a canal in the center of each vertebrae. Nerve roots split from the spinal cord and travel between each vertebra to every inch of your body. When these nerve roots in your spine become pinched or damaged they become inflamed and you can experience unpleasant symptoms known as radiculopathy. These symptoms can include:
- Sharp pain in the back, arms, and extremities that may worsen with certain activities, even something as simple as coughing or sneezing
- Weakness or loss of reflexes in the arms or legs
- Numbness of the skin, or other abnormal sensations in the arms or legs
Your specific symptoms will depend on the location in the spine where the nerve root is pinched. It is also possible that you don’t experience any symptoms or you go through periodic flare-ups of symptoms.