Radiculopathy is not a specific condition, but rather a description of a problem in which one or more nerves are affected and do not work properly (a neuropathy). The emphasis is on the nerve root (Radix = “root”). This can result in pain (radicular pain), weakness, numbness, or difficulty controlling specific muscles.
In a radiculopathy, the problem is at or near the root of the nerve, along the spine. However, the pain or other symptoms may manifest in an extremity through a process called referred pain. For example, a nerve root impingement in the neck can produce pain and weakness in the forearm. Likewise, an impingement in the lower back or lumbar-sacral spine can be manifested with symptoms in the foot. Polyradiculopathy is the name of the term for describing when more than one spinal nerve roots are affected.