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A 32-year-old member asked:

Can you explain what are neuritis, radiculitis, radiculopathy, sciatica and cauda equina?

5 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Mark Weston
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 31 years experience
Nomenclature: To me neuritis means nerve inflamation outside the spine radiculitis is inflamation of the nerve roots within the spine radiculopathy is the dysfunction caused by spinal nerve root compression foot drop toe numbness pain sciatica is a clinical diagnosis buttocks and leg p.Down the back of your leg to heel cauda equina is latin for horses tail describes the appearance of the spinal cord.
Dr. Alexandre De Moura
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 31 years experience
Here it goes: The nervous system can be affected three ways. The first is neuritis, which is an irritation of the nerves in the periphery . The second is radiculopathy which is the irritation of the nerve root from its origin in the spine which can cause pain down your leg such as "sciatica ".. The third is myelopathy which is compression of the spinal cord and give you symptoms such as an unstable gait.
Dr. Ron Jones
Family Medicine 45 years experience
1st 3: Not enough space for all. The suffix "itis" is associated with "inflammation" of something. Thus neur-itis is inflammation of a nerve. Radicul-itis is inflammation of a spinal nerve or its "path" of travel. Radiculopathy is an abnormal state of "disease" such as compression of a spinal nerve and its "path" of travel. Hint on cauda equina = horses tail". Nerves at end of cord.
Dr. Mark Weston
Orthopedic Spine Surgery 31 years experience
Ill try: These are all similar terms neuritis is inflamation of a peripheral nervec radiculitis is inflation of a nerve rootr adiculopathy is chacteristic pain pattetn from a radiculitis siatica is ageneral term that describesva chacteristic pain in buttocks and leg often caused by a radiculits or neuritis of siatic nerve. Cauda equina is the name of the large group of nerves that comes off spinal cord tip.
Dr. Qamar Khan
Pain Management 17 years experience
A lot of terms: Neuritis/Radiculitis are synonyms suggesting sciatica pain but without significant exam findings. Radiculopathy is a term for sciatica that causes, numbness, weakness and reflex changes on exam. Sciatica is term for all of the above but generally includes back and leg pain. Cauda Equina is an spine emergency that needs evaluation because of weakness, pelvic numbness and bowel/bladder issues.

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Last updated Nov 18, 2015
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