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The Pain that Radiates
What is Radiculopathy?
Radiculopathy (L. radicula = little root; pathos = disease) is, literally, pain that "radiates" along the nerve paths of the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine. Even though the problem occurs at or near the root of the nerve, along the spine, the pain or other symptoms often radiate to the part of the body the nerve supplies. This is known as dermatomal distribution. A common example is when the pain starts in the lumbar region and can be felt all the way down the leg, even to the bottom of the foot. When you feel this type of pain, it is common for doctors to have to examine the nervous system to determine if there is compression of the nerve root.
The pain may be resulting from the lumbar or cervical nerve being either pinched, inflammed, irritated, or not working properly because of a lack of proper blood supply. While the symptoms experienced by each individual may vary widely depending on which nerves are affected, unrelenting pain is a common denominator in all radiculopathy cases. Radiculopathy can result from a herniated disc, bulging disc or joint compression.
The most common compression occurs in the lumbar region at the L4 and L5 region.  In the neck area the most common compression occurs at the C5,C6 and C7.
Nerve Compression
When a patient has acute or chronic nerve root compression, many symptoms can come about. The majority will say that what they feel is pain, pain, and more pain. But when we break down the symptoms, patients seem to describe these characteristics:
  • abnormal sensation such as pricking or tingling
  • heightened sensitivity
  • sensory loss in a dermatomal distribution 
  • weakness in the muscles innervated by the root
The onset of nerve root pain due to a disc herniation is often abrupt, but it may also develop over several hours or days after the start of back pain. The reason that pain occurs is due to the entrapment of the nerve. 
Types of Radiculopathies 
Lumbosacral Radiculopathies 
Lumbosacral radiculopathies concern the issues of the sciatica. The root pain of sciatica is typically (94%of the time) accompanied or preceded by back pain. And for some, the sciatica pain can be difficult to pinpoint because it can be diffuse, which means that the pain is spread throughout a large area. 
The nastiness of sciatic pain was known to Shakespeare, who employed it as a curse ("Thou cold sciatica, cripple our senators, that their limbs may halt as lamely as their manners ...."). 
Lumbar disc herniations occur most commonly at L4/5 (L5 root; 50%) and at L5/S1 (S1 root; 46.3%). Compression of the 4th and 5th lumbar nerve root is most common, with the first sacral nerve roots a close second.  


A reason for the frequent compression of the L5 root may be the tight fit of the L5 root in its opening since this root has the largest diameter and its intervertebral opening is narrower than any other in the lumbar region.


Pain can radiate along the posterior thigh and the hamstrings of the leg. This is typically as a result of an S1 or L5 radiculopathy (nerve roots).  When it's caused by S1 irritation, it may proceed to the side of the foot. Pain due to L5 radiculopathy may radiate to the upperside of the foot and to the large toe. 

 Cervical Radiculopathies
Cervical radiculopathies are a type of radiating pain that stems from irritation of the cervical nerve roots, generally as the result of cervical arthritis or a cervical disc 
herniation. It typically causes a stiff painful neck with numbness and tingling that extends down the lateral aspect of the associated arm into the fingers. The most common compression occurs unilaterally in the interspaces between the fifth, sixth, or seventh cervical vertebrae (C5, C6, or C7) with pressure exerted on the C6 or C7 spinal nerve roots.
Pain due to a C6 and C7 radiculopathy radiates from the neck and from around the shoulder into outer area of the arm and forearm.  C6 radiculopathy may cause pain and numbness along the back of the thumb and index finger. C7 and C8 pain may radiate to the pinky and ring finger.

Dr. Sullivan's Recommendations

The most effective, non-invasive treatment for radiculopathy is Spinal Decompression Therapy.  Decompression therapy can be applied to the neck and lower back region. Spinal Decompression gently stretches the spine taking pressure off the compressed nerves and discs. By taking the pressure off nerves this allows the injured nerve to heal and reduce inflammation. This is critical for the injury to heal because if the nerve irritation is not treated permanent damage can occur.  


For moderate to severe radiculopathies we are now utilizing Laser therapy to help reduce the pain and inflammation. The laser can penetrate deep around the nerve root and disc.  


If you are suffering from numbness and tingling, weakness in your hands or legs, or having shooting pain we can help.  Give our office a call at (703) 912-7822.

Health & Wellness Articles

NOVA Chiropractic Blog Article

Dr. Mercola Supports 
K-Laser Therapy!
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Note: The material provided in this newsletter is for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein may not always reflect the views of the NOVA Chiropractic, nor do they imply an endorsement. 
In This Issue
How to Choose the Right Mattress
How to Choose the Right Mattress
Types of Radiculopathies
How to Choose the Right Mattress
NOVA Chiropractic Blog Article
Sleep Disrupted by Ostomy, Complicated by Cervical Radiculopathy
Using Non-surgical Decompression
Dr. Mercula Supports K-Laser Therapy!
Laser Therapy
Ingredient of the Week
Stay Fit with Local Events
The Healthy Alternative
Contact Information
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Burke, VA 22015
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Fri      Closed 
Sat     Closed 
Sun    Closed 
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K-Laser Therapy
 The Latest & Greatest at NOVA Chiropractic
The laser has proven to help dozens of patients at NOVA Chiropractic! Common conditions with current patients that laser therapy is helping to heal are:
  • Herniated discs
  • Knee arthritis
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome
  • Achilles tendinitis 
  • Neck and back pain
  • and much more!
For more information, call 703-912-7822 or email
Ingredient of the Week
Ingredient of the Week

September is a great time to harvest apples! Apples are full of antioxidants which gives them the ability to decrease oxidation of cell membrane fats. This benefit is especially important in our cardiovascular system since oxidation of fat is a primary risk factor for clogging of the arteries.
If you are storing apples for a longer period of time (3 weeks) in the fridge, be sure t keep them separate or in a sealed bag from other fruits and vegetables. Apples give off ethylene, which causes vegetables like lettuce to spoil faster.  
Stay Fit with 
Local Events!
 09/07/13 - 09/08/13


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09/07/13 - 09/08-13


Family Day -- Robotics


2013 Seminars/Events 
Active Release Technique 

Re-Certification Seminar 

Iselin, New Jersey


Medicare Seminar

Richmond, Virginia


Health and Safety Fair

Fort Belvoir, VA


Health Fair at the Naval Research Laboratory

Washington, DC


The Healthy Alternative
The Healthy Alternative

A guidebook written by

Dr. Sullivan!

The Healthy Alternative: 

A Guide For A Pain-Free, Active Lifestyle empowers and educates the reader when confronted with back or neck on the treatment options available and integrating the safest, most effective ways to manage and prevent pain. Order Now!