Because so many military occupations are physically demanding, it makes sense that many Veterans have issues with their backs. Even service members who have less strenuous occupations face a lot of wear and tear due to physical training, marches, and weapons training. This means that back claims are among the most common filed by Veterans. However, a veteran simply can’t file for a “bad back.” Instead, he or she must file a specific back claim. There are multiple types of back claims or conditions that relate to the back and the spine. Degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, and bone spurs are just some of the many conditions that a Veteran can file for with their back or spine. One condition in particular that many Vets struggle with is radiculopathy.
The struggle with radiculopathy starts with the pronunciation of the term. Most people pronounce it “radical pathy.” However, our friends from Merriam-Webster offer the following pronunciation for the term: \ rə-ˌdi-kyə-ˈlä-pə-thē \. Now you know how to pronounce radiculopathy. But what exactly is it?
Using context clues, we know that radiculopathy is associated with the back. However, the condition isn’t as simple as other back conditions. For instance, a herniated disc is almost self-explanatory. Radiculopathy is complex. The Cleveland Clinic offers the following explanation:
A disc herniation occurs when the outer rim (annulus) of the disc weakens or tears, causing the nucleus to push outward.
When the disc herniates backward, to the right, or to the left it may impinge or “pinch” on a spinal nerve and/or the spinal cord, causing symptoms in the corresponding dermatome area. This is called a “radiculopathy.” Radiculopathy may occur spontaneously or with trauma.
Not all disc herniations cause impingement. As many as 30 percents of all adults have symptom-free bulges or minor herniations in the cervical area. Also, as many as 30 to 60 percents of all adults have disc bulges in their lower back that are entirely symptom-free.
Because of the convoluted nature of this condition, many Veterans aren’t aware that they can file a claim for radiculopathy secondary to their service-connected back or spine condition. It’s important to educate yourself about the symptoms of this condition. Here are some symptoms offered by the Cleveland Clinic:
When a disc herniates and impinges a spinal nerve, it may cause pain, changes in sensation (numbness), and loss of muscle strength in the affected area. Numbness and muscle weakness is often felt in the corresponding dermatome area.
If you think that you may have this condition, you will want to contact your medical care provider so they can explore treatment options. It’s possible that he or she will refer you to a spine specialist for further diagnosis and treatment.
If you’d like to know more or if you’d like to sign up for a free consultation, call our office today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you don’t have time to talk now, fill out this form so that a member of our team may contact you at a better time.