OHSU

About Radiculopathy and Myelopathy

Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is the term for a pinched nerve or nerves along the spine. Pressure where the nerve connects to the spine (nerve root) can cause pain, weakness and other symptoms.

In radiculopathy, the pain source is at the root of the nerve where it connects to the spine. However, you might feel pain elsewhere because nerves send sensation throughout the body. For example, pressure on a nerve root in your neck can cause forearm pain and weakness. Pressure on a nerve root in your lower back or tailbone area can cause foot symptoms.  

Causes of radiculopathy

Radiculopathy can be caused by:

  • A pinched nerve
  • A nerve that is irritated and inflamed
  • A nerve that isn't working correctly because of low blood flow
  • A nerve that is damaged by disease

Myelopathy

Myelopathy is the term for a pinched nerve in the spinal cord. It affects the entire spinal cord. This is different from radiculopathy, which is pressure on spinal nerve roots at certain points.

Myelopathy can be difficult to detect because it usually develops gradually in older people who are beginning to lose strength and be less active naturally. If you have myelopathy, you might have difficulty doing things that take coordination, like walking up and down stairs or fastening buttons on your clothes.

Causes of myelopathy

Myelopathy is commonly caused by narrowing of the space around the spinal cord (spinal canal). As your spine changes with age, bone spurs and arthritis make the spinal canal much smaller. The narrowing is called spinal stenosis. Bone spurs and other tissue may press on the spinal cord and nerve roots. This pressure can affect normal nerve function.

Symptoms of Radiculopathy and Myelopathy

Symptoms of radiculopathy and myelopathy include:

  • Pain
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination or balance

Schedule an Appointment at OHSU Spine Center

503 418-9888

Locations

Center for Health & Healing
3303 SW Bond Ave, 8th floor
Portland, OR 97239

OHSU Spine Center at Cornell West
1500 NW Bethany Blvd., Suite 195
Beaverton, OR 97006