Radicular Pain and Radiculopathy Definition

While radicular pain and radiculopathy are related terms, they have distinct meanings.

  • Radicular pain occurs when pain radiates from an inflamed or compressed nerve root. As an example, an inflamed nerve root in the neck may radiate pain into the arm or hand.
  • Radiculopathy occurs when a compressed or inflamed nerve root results in neurological deficits, such as problems with reflexes, numbness, and/or weakness.

Radicular pain and radiculopathy can occur separately (one without the other) or together. When explaining a diagnosis and treatment plan to a patient, medical professionals commonly use these terms interchangeably because radicular pain and radiculopathy often occur together, and initial nonsurgical treatments tend to be the same regardless.