A Radical Revisitation of Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy, that’s when a T-Rex with sunglasses does a skateboard trick right? Nope.

Is that when you have an injury in your back? Getting warmer but not entirely true.

Well, what is it then?

This is why we’ve deemed it necessary to revisit this somewhat confusing, but nonetheless ‘rad’ term used in medicine.

What is “Radiculopathy”?

Radiculopathy is a disease of the nerve root.

It’s most commonly mistaken with a back injury, because that’s where a majority of the nerve roots are located.

The nervous system, being a complex and sensitive system, can result in radiculopathy that manifests in many different ways.

One size does not fit all

We’ve discussed in the past, that workers’ comp physicians can fall into the trap of institutional bias. Moreover, with workers’ compensation being the difficult field that it is, physicians will sometimes overlook the importance of the specifics of something like radiculopathy, generalizing symptoms of what is a very serious, and very specific problem.

We believe that radiculopathy is rather important, and should not be overlooked. Complications with the nervous system can have a domino effect, causing multiple other health issues with an individual over time.

To remedy this issue, we recommend our product Rate-Fast, as ever, which not only examines claims where radiculopathy arises, but grade’s a physician’s report based on thoroughness of their collected data, so that the physician knows how well they are measuring said radiculopathy.

Complications examining Radiculopathy

The nervous system is like a vast array of tree roots that branch throughout the body (sometimes entertainingly seen in cadavers including eyeballs). Finding the root of the issue, quite literally, is not an easy task.

For example, a ‘dermatome’ is a part of the skin where nerves branch from a single nerve root. Sometimes a dermatome can come from a nerve root above or below the root suspected of causing the patient’s disease.

If a patient is experiencing numbness, it may also be difficult to locate the origin of the patient’s radiculopathy.

Finding the Cause

As previously stated, it can be difficult to locate the origin of a patient’s radiculopathy due to several factors, the least of which being that the nerve root causing the issue is located near the spine. This is much more difficult to examine than say, a broken bone or a laceration on the skin.

A patient may be referred to a specialist who can conduct specialized diagnostic testing to properly address the origin of the patient’s radiculopathy.


Diagnosing, examining, and treating radiculopathy in workers’ comp patients is no small feat. The symptoms are vague, the location of the issue is not easy to find, and methods of finding it are not perfect.

Still, an issue this complicated should not become a case of institutional bias on the part of the PTP. It is critical that the treating physician is diligent about treating a patient’s radiculopathy to the best of their ability.

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