Illustration depicting lumbar radiculopathy diagnosis using ICD-10 codes M54.16, M54.17, and M54.18.

Lumbar Radiculopathy: ICD-10, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Sciatica, often referred to as lumbar radiculopathy, is a disorder marked by pain that travels down the sciatic nerve, which emerges from your lower back and travels down your hips, buttocks, and legs. It frequently results from irritation or compression of the lumbar spine’s nerve roots. In the medical community, the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) has particular codes that correspond to lumbar radiculopathy. In order to offer effective care and satisfy insurance requirements, healthcare practitioners must correctly record and diagnose problems, which is made possible by this coding system.

ICD-10 Code for Lumbar Radiculopathy

ICD-10, the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, is the standard system used by healthcare providers for coding diagnoses and procedures. Lumbar radiculopathy is classified under the following ICD-10 codes:

  1. M54.16 – Radiculopathy, lumbar region
  2. M54.17 – Radiculopathy, lumbosacral region
  3. M54.15 – Radiculopathy, thoracolumbar region
  4. M54.14 – Radiculopathy, thoracic region

These codes provide specific classifications for lumbar radiculopathy based on the anatomical location of the affected nerve roots, aiding in accurate diagnosis and documentation for billing and medical records purposes.

Causes of Lumbar Radiculopathy

Lumbar radiculopathy is typically caused by conditions that compress or irritate the nerve roots in the lumbar spine. Some common causes include:

  1. Herniated Disc: When the soft inner core of a disc in the spine pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior, it can press on a nerve root, leading to radiculopathy.
  2. Degenerative Disc Disease: As people age, the discs in their spine can degenerate or break down, leading to disc herniation and nerve compression.
  3. Spinal Stenosis: This condition occurs when the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots, often due to the overgrowth of bone or tissue.
  4. Spondylolisthesis: This is a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it, compressing the nerve roots.
  5. Trauma: Injuries to the spine, such as fractures or dislocations, can also lead to lumbar radiculopathy.

Symptoms of Lumbar Radiculopathy

Symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy can vary widely depending on the severity of the condition and the nerve(s) affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Sharp, shooting pain that radiates from the lower back down one leg, often described as burning or electric-like.
  • Tingling: Sensations of pins and needles or tingling along the path of the affected nerve.
  • Numbness: Loss of sensation or feeling in the affected leg or foot.
  • Muscle Weakness: Weakness or difficulty moving the affected leg or foot, particularly when trying to lift the leg or stand on tiptoes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose lumbar radiculopathy, healthcare providers typically perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to visualize the spine and the affected nerve roots. Treatment for lumbar radiculopathy depends on the underlying cause but may include:

  1. Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications or prescription drugs may be used to manage pain and inflammation.
  2. Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches can help improve flexibility, strength, and posture, reducing pressure on the nerve roots.
  3. Steroid Injections: Corticosteroids can be injected near the affected nerve root to reduce inflammation and pain.
  4. Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be recommended to relieve pressure on the nerve roots.


Sciatica, also known as lumbar radiculopathy, is a common ailment that can produce excruciating pain. To control symptoms and enhance quality of life, a proper diagnosis and course of therapy are crucial. Healthcare professionals may properly identify and record lumbar radiculopathy using the ICD-10 number M54.16, which facilitates the development of more efficacious treatment plans. For an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan, it is crucial to speak with a healthcare provider if you are exhibiting symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy.

Wasiur Rehman is fueled by a deep passion for advancing innovation in healthcare and medical research. He possesses a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science Engineering and has dedicated approximately two years to his role as a research analyst and SEO content writer. Currently, he is a valuable member of the DiseaseInfoHub team, serving as a content and research guide.

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