The human spine performs a huge function in the body. It supports the upper body weight, aids mobility, keeps posture upright, and houses the spinal cord. It comprises three levels, namely the cervical spine (which covers the upper body), the thoracic spine (which covers the upper and middle body), and the lumbar spine (which covers the lower body). Each level of the spine is separated by vertebrae which are connected by an intervertebral disc. At each level of the spine, the spinal nerve exists on the right and the left side. The spinal nerve is an interconnected pathway that flows through the body, and they help with motion and sensation. Irritation or damage to the spinal nerve root can lead to a condition called radiculopathy.
What Is Radiculopathy?
Simply put, radiculopathy is an irritation or dysfunction of the spinal nerve root. It’s a condition in which damage from any cause happens at or near the nerve root. It occurs when there’s a pinched nerve along the spinal column.
This condition can cause pain or numbness in different parts of the body. This is because the pain in one part of the body can go through the interconnected nerve pathways to cause pain in other regions, affecting a victim’s daily functioning.
Radiculopathy is commonly caused by any condition that affects the vertebrae discs in the spine, causing them to press against the spinal nerve. Such conditions include degenerative disc disease, car accidents, diabetes, bone spurs, tumor, stenosis, etc.
Types Of Radiculopathy
There are three major types of radiculopathy. This is because the spinal column is divided into three major levels (cervical, thoracic, and lumbar), with each level having spinal nerve roots on each side of the vertebral column.
The following are the types of radiculopathy;
- Cervical radiculopathy
This refers to radiculopathy that happens in the cervical spine. It occurs when the nerve from the nerve roots in the vertebral column’s first seven(7) vertebrae is irritated or dysfunctional.
Cervical radiculopathy is caused by a herniated disc or a bone spur pressing against a sore nerve root.
In addition, pain and other symptoms from cervical radiculopathy aren’t limited to the neck region where the irritated nerve stems from. It travels down to other body parts like the hands, shoulders, and fingers, where the nerve sends signals.
- Thoracic radiculopathy
Thoracic radiculopathy refers to radiculopathy that happens in the thoracic spinal column.
The thoracic spine, which comprises the 12 vertebrae ( T1 – T12), covers the upper back, chest, and abdomen. Hence, this radiculopathy affects the nerve roots sending motor and sensory signals to the thoracic region.
- Lumbar radiculopathy
Lumbar radiculopathy affects the nerves in the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine, which consists of 5 vertebrae, labeled L1 to L5, is involved in this case.
Here, the nerves performing sensory and motor functions in the lower limbs are irritated, leading to sharp pains in the lower back, extending to the leg and foot.
Can Radiculopathy Truly Affect A Person’s Daily Life?
Pain is an unpleasant sensation in the human body that can cause a lot of damage. It can alter a person’s thinking and cause difficulty while carrying out basic tasks. On the economic side, the cost of treating pain sometimes can be damning to the pocket and cause someone to lose the ability to participate in economic activities.
Radiculopathy is characterized by pain in the affected region. It further affects other connected parts of the body sharing the same nerve pathway, and if care isn’t taken, it can cause impairment.
Little wonder does patients diagnosed with radiculopathy go to the court of law to prove that their pain is caused by another party or show how it affects their ability to function effectively.
An example is the case of Hanson v. Colvin.
In this case, the plaintiff applied for disability benefits as he was diagnosed with severe radiculopathy causing pain to his acute lower back radiating into his right leg. A neurologist on the case concluded that the plaintiff would not be able to tolerate more than four hours of working a day. Another neurologist on the case also affirms that the symptoms of his condition dictate that the plaintiff avoid prolonged standing, walking, and sitting activities unless these can be performed with frequent breaks.
This clearly shows that his ability to work up to 40hrs a week will be affected by his severe radiculopathy diagnosis.
Another example is the case of Kearse v. NYC Tr. Auth.
The plaintiff claimed that she was injured as she boarded a bus operated by the defendant after being trapped between these doors for several minutes.
She sought medical attention, and she was diagnosed with injuries to her neck and lower back, including cervical radiculopathy and lumbar radiculopathy.
She claimed she underwent physical therapy three times a week for six to nine months.
If true, such a treatment would have affected her usual way of life as she would experience pain and an unanticipated cost of having to go for physical therapy.
Getting Settlement When Diagnosed With Radiculopathy
Circumstances surrounding a victim’s radiculopathy diagnosis can vary. Hence, it’s essential the victim seeks the service of a qualified attorney who can help prove the extent of the injury and how it’s going to impact the quality of their life.
The attorney, in proving this, can seek to use legal animation to illustrate how the injury affected the nerve roots in different parts of the body. The different nerve pathways in the body and how it reacts and creates pain in affected regions can also be illustrated.
In conclusion, an attorney can collaborate with a legal animation company with a record of success to illustrate radiculopathy as diagnosed by an expert witness.