What Veterans Should Know About Radiculopathy

As you wrap up your service in the armed forces, there are a few things you may expect to experience once you return home. You probably expect to reunite with family and friends and settle into new routines, whether that be at home or in a new occupation. However, one of the less frequently discussed topics is radiculopathy, which is a back condition that a number of Veterans experience returning to civilian life.

What is Radiculopathy?

While you may not be familiar with the term radiculopathy, you have probably heard of a pinched nerve. This is the more commonly used term to describe the physical condition. A pinched nerve, or radiculopathy, is an injury caused by damage done to nerve roots centered specifically around the area where the nerves leave the spine. While this condition can affect anyone, it is generally associated with disc degeneration, disc herniation, or other forms of trauma. For former servicemembers, radiculopathy may be a result of heavy lifting, repetitive motions, or other spinal injuries frequently seen with military tasks or combat-related incidents.

Types of Radiculopathy and Associated Symptoms

Radiculopathy symptoms typically include tingling and numbness in fingers or hands, reduced motor skills, loss of sensation, weakness of arms, shoulders, or hands, as well as neck pain caused by movement. However, there are three types of radiculopathy which each have their own associated symptoms:

  • Cervical Radiculopathy: Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a nerve in the neck is irritated at the point where it leaves the spinal canal. This condition most commonly results from a bone spur or disc herniation. Veterans may experience pain starting in his or her shoulders with muscle weakness and numbness extending down through their arms to their hands.
  • Lumbar Radiculopathy: This type of radiculopathy is often referred to as sciatica and develops in the same way as cervical radiculopathy, but involves a nerve root in the lower back. Veterans with lumbar radiculopathy may experience pain, tingling, or numbness that radiates from his or her lower back down to their leg.
  • Thoracic Radiculopathy: Thoracic radiculopathy occurs in the upper region on the back. Veterans who experience this type of radiculopathy will most likely experience tingling, numbness, and general pain that extends from the back of his or her body to the front.

Getting Treatment for Radiculopathy as a Veteran

Considering the various types of radiculopathy, the odds are that each Veteran’s symptoms will differ from the next. If you are unclear whether your back pain qualifies as radiculopathy, consider making an appointment with a medical professional to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. If you receive a radiculopathy diagnosis, your medical team will most likely begin addressing your pain with non-surgical treatments. However, if your pain persists without improvement even after these treatments, your doctors may recommend surgery.

Talk to a Veterans Attorney About Radiculopathy and Disability Benefits

Radiculopathy can make it difficult to maintain steady employment, as the persistent pain makes it hard to sit at a desk, stand at a counter, or do physical work for extended periods. If you are a Veteran who has difficulty maintaining a job due to pain resulting from radiculopathy, you may want to consider applying for VA disability benefits. Our dedicated Veterans disability team is committed to helping you get the benefits you deserve. Contact our team today and schedule a free consultation – from anywhere in the country.

Fight 4 Vets