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Posted on 11-15-2013

Low Back Pain with Radiation Following Baltimore Auto Accidents

As many of you who follow my blog realize, I enjoy writing about the area of whiplash injuries associated with Baltimore auto accidents. Although on the surface you may think that if you've seen one auto accident you've seen them all, each case and its individual differences are really interesting to me.

One area that I have not spent much time on is the idea of lumbar radiculopathy which usually results in low back pain with radiation of pain symptoms. The radiation of pain can be down the front of the leg, down the back of the leg, across the flank, or even into the groin region. Many people refer to all radiation of pain down a leg to be "sciatica" but that is not the case. I will talk about that more in another blog post. For those who pay close attention to detail you may remember a blog post I made several months back about cervical radiculopathy- a similar occurrence in the neck. It's nice to know people are reading :).

In simple terms, radiculopathy is inflammation of a nerve root. Anytime the spine is stressed or compressed, such as in a Baltimore auto accident, there can be irritation to nerve roots. This is the case for the entire spine, but for the sake of this discussion, we will only be considering the lower back, or lumbar radiculopathy.

The nerve roots in the lower back comprise all of the motor and sensory fibers that innervate the lower extremities (legs). The motor fibers control motion in the lower extremity while the sensory fibers convey sensation from the environment (such as heat, cold, pain, light tough vibration, pressure) to the brain.

Following trauma to the spine, such as that often experienced in Baltimore auto accidents, the nerve roots may become injured, manifesting in a myriad of symptoms. Most commonly patients present with low back pain along with numbness and/or tingling and/or weakness into the lower extremity on the affected side. There may or may not be associated hyporeflexia (decreased reflexes) as well. Often times radiculopathy can be confirmed on physical examination and if need be, advanced imaging studies such as MRIs are used to better understand the degree of impingement of any other soft tissue structures such as intervertebral discs.

As part of the therapy for Baltimore auto accidents that I provide in my office, therapy usually involves heat, electric muscle stimulation, traction therapy, and if appropriate, chiropractic spinal manipulation. Most patients respond favorably within 6-12 weeks to conservative chiropractic therapy. Those that don't are referred to specialists for additional intervention. The key to recovery is quick intervention. That is, the longer a patient experiences radiculopathy the longer it takes for the symptoms to resolve. In many cases patients make a complete recovery.

If you, or anyone you know, has suffered a lumbar radiculopathy as a result of a Baltimore auto accident and require Baltimore auto accident treatment, please contact Mid-Atlantic Spinal Rehab & Chiropractic at (443) 842-5500. We would be glad to help!

Dr. Gulitz

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