Radiculitis – symptoms and treatment of the disease

With timely diagnosis, sciatica responds well to therapy. Conservative treatment is carried out aimed at eliminating back pain, increasing the mobility of the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine. Drugs of various pharmacological groups are used, massage and physiotherapeutic procedures are carried out. If conservative treatment of radiculitis is ineffective, then surgery is indicated for patients.

First aid

With radiculitis, an awkward, sudden movement, hypothermia leads to pain. It is so strong that a person is afraid to breathe deeply so as not to provoke its strengthening. He needs help getting to bed. If the floor is warm, then it is better to fall on it, as the pain wanes faster when lying on a hard surface.

The legs must be bent at the knees, placing a roller or a folded blanket under them. With exacerbation of cervical radiculitis, a thin pillow should be placed under the head. In some cases, the pain passes in a supine position with bent legs.

Taking 1-2 tablets of any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) – Diclofenac, Nurofen, Nise or applying Voltaren, Fastum, Ketorol gels will help you feel better. To relieve pain, you need to wrap a neck or lower back with a woolen cloth, but you can not use cold for first aid.


Radiculitis is an inflammation of the spinal root, which in most cases can be eliminated by conservative methods, including the use of medications.

When choosing drugs, their dosage forms, a neurologist or vertebrologist takes into account the localization of the pathology, the severity of symptoms and the cause of the development of the inflammatory process. Mild and moderate pain can be eliminated with the help of ointments:

The ingredients of ointments and gels almost do not penetrate into the blood, do not have a toxic effect on the stomach, liver, and kidneys. External agents are often combined with tablets and injections in order to reduce their doses and reduce the pharmacological burden on the patient’s body.

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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Unlike ointments and injections, tablets are convenient to take and dose. The active ingredients are protected from the gastric juice by the enteric coating. They are gradually released and enter the bloodstream, which ensures a long therapeutic effect.

Most often, NSAIDs in tablets are used in the treatment of radiculitis:

  • Nimesulide (Nise, Nimulide);
  • Diclofenac (Ortofen, Voltaren);
  • Indomethacin (Metindol, Eptimetacin);
  • Ibuprofen (Mig, Nurofen);
  • Ketorolac (Ketorol, Ketanov).

In the form of tablets, muscle relaxants (Sirdalud, Baclosan), antispasmodics (Baralgin, Spazmalgon), analgesics (Analgin, Paracetamol) are used. As the pain worsens, the doses of the drugs gradually decrease, since many of them are used only to eliminate symptoms.


For the relief of acute pain, intramuscular administration of NSAIDs – Movalis, Ortofen, Diclofenac, Xefocam, Ketorolac is practiced. The active ingredients immediately penetrate the systemic circulation, exerting an analgesic effect after a few minutes. In the form of injections in the treatment of radiculitis, other means are also used:

  • drugs for improving blood circulation – Pentoxifylline, Xanthinol nicotinate, Eufillin, Nicergoline;
  • agents with B vitamins – Combilipen, Milgamma;
  • chondroprotectors – Alflutop, Chondroitin, Rumalon.

Preparations for parenteral administration are not intended for prolonged use. After a 1-2-week course, they are replaced with the same tablets or ointments.


If the pain with radiculitis occurs so acute that even NSAID injections cannot cope with it, then drug blockages are used. The introduction of Novocaine into the soft tissues of the affected segment of the spine can quickly improve well-being. Novocainic blockade temporarily stops the transmission of impulses to the inflamed spinal root. The analgesic effect persists for an hour.

To prolong the analgesic effect of anesthetics, Novocain or Lidocaine is combined with glucocorticosteroids Triamcinolone, Diprospan, Dexamethasone. This allows you to eliminate all the symptoms of radiculitis for several days and even weeks.

Muscle relaxants

To reduce the intensity of pain, muscle spasm occurs, limiting the mobility of the affected spine. But an increase in the tone of skeletal muscles often leads to the opposite effect. Due to compression of the spinal roots, the pain only intensifies. In such cases, muscle relaxants in tablets are used in the treatment of radiculitis – Baklosan, Baclofen, Sirdalud, Tolperizon.

For first aid for acute pain, Midocalm is administered intramuscularly. In addition to eliminating muscle spasms of the muscle relaxant tolperisone, it contains an anesthetic lidocaine.


Chondroprotectors are drugs that partially restore damaged cartilage tissue. They prevent the spread of degenerative-dystrophic pathologies, stimulate the strengthening of ligaments. The group of chondroprotectors includes:

After 1-2 weeks of drug administration, their active ingredients accumulate in the area of ​​damaged roots, discs and vertebrae. Their pronounced analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect begins to appear.

Supplements and vitamins

As part of the complex treatment of radiculitis, patients are prescribed drugs with B vitamins – Pentovit, Neurobion, Neuromultivit, Milgamma, Combilipen. Drugs restore optimal impulse transmission, improve the peripheral nervous system. And to strengthen the body’s defenses, replenish the supply of nutrients in the vertebral structures, balanced complexes of vitamins and trace elements are used:

From biologically active additives (BAA) for radiculitis, external agents are most effective. These are Shark fat, Honda, Arthro-Active, Dikul and Sophia balms. Supplements eliminate mild pain and inflammation, increase range of motion.


Diuretics or diuretics are not always prescribed for patients with radiculitis. Their use is justified in case of severe inflammation, accompanied by the formation of edema in the region of the spinal roots. It presses on the nerve endings, which leads to increased pain. In such cases, diuretics are required that remove excess fluid from the body. The therapeutic schemes include Trigrim, Furosemide, Veroshpiron, Hypothiazide.


If the patient’s well-being does not improve within 3-4 months of conservative therapy, then surgical treatment is performed – removal of the intervertebral hernia. The operation is indicated for paralyzing sciatica, which occurs with the developed horse tail syndrome, as well as with functional disorders of the pelvic organs.

Surgical intervention can be performed in several ways:

  • open or endoscopic discectomy;
  • microdisectomy;
  • laser vaporization;
  • intradiscal electrothermal therapy.

During the rehabilitation period, patients are recommended physiotherapy, massage, spa treatment using mud applications, hydrogen sulfide and radon baths, daily physical therapy exercises.


Medical leeches are used in the treatment of chronic radiculitis, including for the prevention of its painful relapses. Ringworms are installed on the area of ​​the inflamed root in the amount of 3-7 pieces. Leeches bite through the skin, injecting saliva with bioactive substances into the blood. They have a diverse effect on the human body – analgesic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant.


Acupuncture sessions are performed to eliminate both acute and mild pain with radiculitis. Thin, short needles made of steel, silver, gold are set on the biological active points of the human body. These reflexogenic zones are located not only along the spinal column, but also on the arms, legs, and earlobes. After installing the needles, accompanied only by slight discomfort, impulses enter the central nervous system. In response to them, substances with analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as endorphins, are produced.

Manual therapy

The chiropractor begins to carry out medical procedures only after studying the data of x-ray and MRI, examining the spine using superficial and deep palpation. He acts with his fingers directly on the cause of inflammation of the nerve roots – displaced disks, deformed vertebrae. After installing them in the anatomical position, the gaps between the vertebral bodies increase. This helps to eliminate not only pain, but also neurological disorders.


Massage procedures are carried out at the stage of remission of radiculitis to prevent its exacerbations. During the sessions, the main massage movements are performed – rubbing, stroking, kneading, vibration. The masseur acts only on muscle tissue, contributing to their strengthening, improving blood circulation in the affected spinal cord region. In addition to classical massage, the treatment also uses vacuum, acupuncture, segmental, connective tissue.

diet therapy

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As a method of treating radiculitis, the diet is not applied. Exception – overweight patients. They are advised to lose weight in order to reduce the load on damaged vertebral structures. To do this, you need to limit the daily diet to 2000-2500 calories. It is necessary to exclude from it semi-finished products, sausages and confectionery, fatty meat. It is better to replace them with fresh vegetables, fruits, cereals.

Drink less than 2,5 liters of fluid daily. These are pure water, vegetable and fruit juices, berry fruit drinks, jelly, slightly salted mineral waters (Essentuki No. 2, Nagutskaya, Slavyanovskaya, Smirnovskaya).


Ultraphonophoresis or electrophoresis with anesthetics, glucocorticosteroids are used to eliminate severe pain. Molecules of drugs under the influence of ultrasound or electric current penetrate directly to the source of pain, and do not disperse throughout the body. These procedures are also shown during the rehabilitation period, at the stage of remission, but with the use of B vitamins, chondroprotectors.

In the treatment of radiculitis, magnetotherapy, UHF therapy, laser therapy, shock wave therapy, and ultraviolet radiation are also used.

Folk methods

Folk remedies will not be able to cope with acute pains and severe inflammation of the spinal root. They are used to prevent relapse or eliminate weak soreness in the neck and back that occurs after hypothermia, increased physical exertion, and weather changes. The use of folk remedies should definitely be discussed with a doctor, since the therapeutic effect of many of them is very doubtful.


Before carrying out the healing procedure, a mixture for compresses is prepared. It is distributed in a thick layer on the back of the neck, thoracic or lumbosacral spine. A plastic film and a dense woolen cloth are applied on top. Fix this design with gauze or elastic bandage. The duration of the procedure is 1-2 hours. If the mixture contains no toxic ingredients, for example, kerosene, then the compress can be kept on the body all night.

Beetroot with kerosene

Large beets are peeled, ground on a grater, the released juice is slightly squeezed. Add a teaspoon of kerosene and as much of any vegetable oil. Beets can be replaced with potatoes, radishes, cabbage, carrots.

Veins are cut from three fresh leaves of burdock, scalded with boiling water, dried. Rub to a gruel, add a tablespoon of thick honey and grape seed cosmetic oil. Instead of burdock, you can use the leaves of cabbage, horseradish, fern.

Red clay

5 tablespoons of red cosmetic clay are mixed with so much of any mineral water so that an elastic mass is obtained. A broad thick cake is formed from it and applied to the painful area. Mineral water can be replaced with low-fat kefir or yogurt.

Burning drugs

The composition of such folk remedies includes ingredients with a warming, locally irritating, distracting effect. People with dry, sensitive skin should only use them after preliminary testing. To do this, a small amount of the product (with a pea) should be rubbed into the wrist or bend of the elbow. If the skin does not turn red within an hour, does not swell, severe burning sensation and pain do not occur, then treatment can be started.

Black radish

Large black radish is washed with warm water and a brush, dried, and the lid is cut off from above. With a sharp knife or fork, chop the pulp, trying not to pierce the peel. Put 1-2 tablespoons of honey inside the root crop, set the lid in place. Leave the radish at room temperature for 3-5 days. The burning juice formed during this time is rubbed into the skin with pain.

A glass jar is filled up to half the volume with fresh, chopped large pieces of leaves and horseradish roots. Tamp well, pour vodka into the container without dyes and preservatives. Insist in a dark place at room temperature for 2 months, periodically shake the contents.


In a container of dark glass with a volume of 0,5 liters put 10-12 large, whole, peeled garlic cloves. Fill the jar with 90-96% medical alcohol, insist in a warm place for a month. Before use, the grinding is not filtered, if necessary, diluted with an equal amount of boiled water.

Bitter pepper

Using medical gloves, 5 pods of red hot pepper are cut into thin rings and placed in a liter glass jar along with the seeds. Vodka is poured into the neck without food additives, left in a dark place at room temperature. The container is shaken daily for better extraction of bioactive substances.


Three potato tubers are boiled together with the peel, chopped. Add a teaspoon of gum turpentine and almond cosmetic oil, 30 g of thick honey, mix well. The resulting warm mass is wrapped in several layers of gauze, applied to the area of ​​pain and inflammation for an hour. The residues are washed off with warm water and soap, be sure to rub a nourishing cream into the skin.

Mustard and honey

2 tablets of furatsilin are dissolved in half a glass of hot water. While the liquid cools, lubricate the skin with warm honey. In a solution of furatsilin, 2 mustard plasters are wetted in the form of plates or filter bags. Apply to honey-oiled skin until a severe burning sensation occurs, and then remove.

In a glass of hot water, a tablespoon is bred with a slide of coarse-grained sea salt. Cool, filter. A wide sterile napkin or a gauze bandage folded in several layers is wetted in the solution. Slightly wring out, apply to the painful area for an hour. To enhance the therapeutic effect, you can cover the dressing with a film and woolen cloth.

Homemade ointments

Home-made ointments have a milder effect than pharmacy drugs due to the low concentration of active ingredients, weak penetration of the components into soft tissues. Ointments should be used for hypothermia as a prophylaxis of exacerbation of radiculitis.

Radiculitis ointmentRecipe
WarmingIn a mortar, mix 50 g of thick honey with a teaspoon of gum turpentine. Add 3 drops of juniper essential oil, 50 g baby cream, 30 g melted pork fat
Pain medicationIn a mortar, grind a tablespoon of Kalanchoe and lanolin juice, add 2 drops of essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, rosemary. Without stopping mixing, introduce in small portions 100 g of medical vaseline

Folk medications for oral administration

In folk medicine, tinctures, decoctions, infusions are used to treat radiculitis. They are prepared on the basis of medicinal plants with a mild anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect.

4 large fleshy leaves of aloe are peeled, ground to a homogeneous mass. Mixed with a glass of thick honey, transferred to a liter glass container. Pour 400 ml of vodka or dry red wine, leave at room temperature in a dark place for a week. Take a teaspoon 3 times a day after meals.


A teaspoon of dry chopped aspen leaves is poured into a glass of boiling water. Insist under the lid for 40 minutes, cool, filter. Take a tablespoon 2 times a day after meals, after adding a little flower honey.

A tablespoon of dry willow bark is put in a small pan, pour 3 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil, simmer for 20 minutes, cool under a lid. Filter, take 50 ml (a quarter cup) 2 times a day after meals.

Snow therapy

With exacerbation of radiculitis, it is strictly forbidden to use snow as a treatment, like any cold compresses. This will lead to muscle spasm and multiple intensification of pain. During remission, snow therapy can only be done after consultation with your doctor. In most cases, they do not recommend such procedures, since hypothermia often provokes a recurrence of radiculitis.

The elimination of acute pain with wet and hot steam can cause an increase in the inflammatory process. But in the subacute period of the course of radiculitis and at the stage of remission, a visit to the bath is very useful. When exposed to heat on the affected spine, blood circulation improves in it, and recovery processes are accelerated.

Features of treatment during pregnancy

In the treatment of radiculitis during the bearing of a child, it is impossible to use folk remedies for oral administration. The feasibility and safety of the use of compresses, home-made ointments, rubbing should be discussed with your doctor.

Preparations of some groups during pregnancy are prohibited. This applies to glucocorticosteroids, some muscle relaxants, NSAIDs. When choosing dosage forms, doctors prefer the least toxic ointments and gels for internal organs.

Disease Prevention Measures

Avoiding the development of radiculitis allows the rejection of bad habits, the exclusion of increased loads on the back. Doctors recommend daily physical exercise, visit the swimming pool, combine walks with Nordic walking.

Shishkevich Vladimir

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews. It specializes in the treatment of diseases in orthopedic, traumatological, vertebrological profiles