Chemical radiculitis is the diagnosis describing spinal nerve root irritation caused by the spilled interior nucleus pulposus proteins which have escaped through an annular tear or due to a ruptured disc. Radiculitis is a general term indicating nerve pain, while the addition of chemical denotes a particular substance causing the agonizing symptoms. This is a very controversial diagnosis which may or may not exist in any given patient, since it seems that extruded disc proteins affect each person differently.
Chemical irritation of nerve tissue has been proven in the lab, but the human body is not the same type of controlled environment. The body has shown definitive proof that it can and will metabolize most spilled disc proteins over time, although the rate of this process may vary. Furthermore, many patients demonstrate obvious contact between interior nucleus proteins and nerve tissue, yet suffer no escalation of symptoms at all. All these factors continue to fuel the fire of debate when it comes to the validity of the chemical irritation diagnosis.
This article provides an objective and informative look at chemical spinal nerve irritation caused by tumor necrosis factor-alpha.
When an intervertebral disc develops a hole or ruptures, the nucleus proteins might exit the compromised disc wall structure. If these proteins come into contact with the spinal nerves, there is a chance that the proteins might have an irritating effect which can elicit back or neck pain symptoms in some patients. Why certain patients experience symptoms from this structural condition and others do not is still being studied, but may have something to do with each person’s individual neurological sensitivity.
The specific protein theorized to do the most damage to nerve tissue is called tumor necrosis factor-alpha. It is a known cause of apoptosis (cellular death) in certain cells. Some of the debated variables in the diagnosis include the ability of the chemicals to effectively cause irritation over time, the rate the chemicals will be absorbed by the body and the degree and diversity of symptoms each patient might experience.
This particular form of radiculitis sometimes resolves all by itself. The body might eventually absorb all the irritating proteins, although in some individuals, this process may take a very long time.
The back pain industry generally fights CR using epidural injections which are designed to neutralize and flush away the nucleus proteins, hopefully resolving the painful symptoms. For accurately diagnosed patients, these injections have a reasonable chance of ending their pain.
Some patients are treated using back surgery procedures to remove disc proteins and decompress affected spinal nerve roots. This is often a dire mistake, since most disc conditions should be treated non-surgically to avoid commonly experienced risks and complications.
Other conservative therapies are generally considered useless for CR sufferers and are therefore contraindicated. However, some medical professionals cite examples where exercise therapy may help the body to resolve the proteins, while others see prolotherapy as a possible injection alternative to epidurals.
If you are unlucky enough to be one of the sensitive people who might be suffering from a CR condition due to a ruptured disc, take heart. Injection therapy is a good bet and offers acceptable results at very low risk.
If multiple rounds of back pain injections, combined with other conservative therapy options do not resolve your pain, you must consider the very real possibility that your pain might have been misdiagnosed. This is a common occurrence for back pain sufferers and was the reason why I endured chronic back pain for many years of my young adult life.
Being that chemical irritation is a controversial model for pain, the opinions that you are likely receive will vary greatly from doctor to doctor. It may be best to ask several doctors about their thoughts on the diagnosis before deciding to pursue treatment.