Radiculopathy and myelopathy are often confusing since they both exhibit similar symptoms. However, there is a  clear distinction between the two and a correct diagnosis should echo that. 

Radiculopathy vs. myelopathy; similar names and symptoms, but different conditions.

While both of these conditions affect the spine and could be your diagnosis, they are very different. The professionals at The Bonati Spine Institute are here to clear up any confusion.

Radiculopathy vs. Myelopathy

Radiculopathy occurs when a nerve or nerves along the spine become pinched. In radiculopathy, the source of the pain is at the root of the nerve where it connects to the spine. The pain however often spreads as the nerves send pain signals to other parts of the body. If you have a pinched nerve in your neck, you may also feel pain in your shoulders and down through your arms.

Radiculopathy is not always triggered by a pinched nerve, though it is common. Some others causes of this condition include:

  1. Nerve irritation or inflammation
  2. Lack of blood flow to the nerve
  3. Nerve damage caused by disease

All of these can cause pain, weakness, numbness and tingling in the arms or legs.

Myelopathy is the result of spinal cord compression. The difference here is that it affects the entire spinal cord, compared to compression on the individual nerve root, which leads to radiculopathy. As you age, the spine changes and conditions like arthritis and bone spurs could cause the spinal canal to narrow. When the spinal canal narrows, it is known as spinal stenosis, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Similar to radiculopathy, those suffering from myelopathy may be dealing with pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. They might also experience a loss of coordination.

Treatment for Radiculopathy and Myelopathy

Treatment options for both of these conditions are rather similar. After a diagnosis, usually through some type of imaging tests, conservative treatment is the first option. Treatment might first include anti-inflammatory medicines, hot or cold compress therapy, and physical therapy.

If these methods do not work, surgical intervention may be required to treat radiculopathy or myelopathy.

If you are suffering from either of radiculopathy or myelopathy and believe that you may be eligible for surgery, contact The Bonati Spine Institute. With more than 30 years of experience, you can rest assured you’re putting your health in the hands of knowledgeable and skilled professionals.

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