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There is often a lot of confusion surrounding nerve pain as symptoms often overlap. As a result, proper diagnosis is essential for patient outcomes and effective treatment. In this article we will cover the difference between radiculopathy vs neuropathy. Although these two conditions have overlapping symptoms, the diagnosis and treatment are not the same. With each condition proper diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.

What is Radiculopathy?

Radiculopathy is defined as the compression or pinching of a
spinal nerve root as it exits the spinal canal. Radiculopathy can occur at any level of the spine; cervical, thoracic or lumbar. Within those spinal segments are twenty-four vertebrae, which allow the body to move while also protecting the spinal cord. Between each vertebra lies intervertebral discs which provide cushion to the bones to prevent bone on bone contact. When there is a trauma, repetitive microtrauma or other form of injury to the disc it can cause compression of a nerve root as it exits the spinal column.

What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is defined as damage or compression of a nerve located outside of the spinal column. The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves located outside of the spine and brain. Damage to one of the peripheral nerves typically causes pain in the extremities. When more than one nerve is affected, it is called polyneuropathy. Peripheral nerve damage can occur from various reasons including tight muscles, trauma, diabetes, infections, or hereditary conditions.

The key difference between radiculopathy and neuropathy is the location and type of nerve affected. Symptoms can vary based on the location, number of nerves involved and the severity of the damage or compression. Typical symptoms of these conditions include pain, numbness or tingling into the hands or feet, sharp or shooting pain, loss of coordination, muscle weakness, bowel bladder or digestive issues and motor and sensory issues.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we can help you find answers by simply reaching out to our office at or give us a call today!

Article written by Dr. Johnnie Morgan, D.C.

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