In a radiculopathy, the problem occurs at or near the root of the nerve, shortly after its exit from the spinal cord. However, the pain or other symptoms often radiate to the part of the body served by that nerve. 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.
The radicular pain that results from a radiculopathy should not be confused with referred pain, which is different both in mechanism and clinical features.
Polyradiculopathy refers to the condition where more than one spinal nerve root is affected.