Lumbar radiculopathy (also known as sciatica or radiculitis) is a condition that occurs when a nerve in your low back is injured, pinched, or compressed, causing pain or other symptoms that can extend from the low back to the hip, leg, or foot. Lumbar radiculopathy can be caused by sudden trauma or by long-term stress affecting structures in the back. It most often affects people aged 30 to 50 years. Risk factors for lumbar radiculopathy include repeated lifting, participating in weight-bearing sports, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and poor posture. The majority of lumbar radiculopathy and sciatica cases recover without surgery and respond well to physical therapy. Physical therapists design individualized treatment programs to help people with lumbar radiculopathy reduce their pain, regain normal movement, and get back to their normal activities.
Cervical radiculopathy is often referred to as a pinched nerve in the neck. It is defined by pain that may radiate (extend) from the neck to the shoulder, shoulder blade, arm, or hand. Weakness and lack of coordination in the arm and hand also can occur. The condition affects about 85 out of 100,000 people and most often occurs in people in their 50s. It often develops from repeated irritation rather than a single injury. Athletes, heavy laborers, and workers who use vibrating machinery are commonly affected. People who sit for long periods, or those with arthritis in the neck region, also may be affected. Conservative care, including physical therapy, can help reduce symptoms. A physical therapist can help relieve the acute neck and arm symptoms that result from the condition. They also can help people improve general strength and function. Most cases resolve with physical therapy and do not require surgery.