Nerve pain often results from nerve entrapment syndrome, the damage caused when a nerve is pinched or compressed. Patients with this condition may experience mild or severe pain that is temporary or chronic. The nerves of the body extend from the brain and spinal cord, threading through to every region of the body. The compression of the nerve can take place in the spine, causing pain to radiate into the limbs, or can take place in other parts of the body. It may occur do to a traumatic injury, repeated stress, or an underlying disease condition.
Types of Nerve Pain
Depending on where the nerve compression occurs, the patient's pain may be experienced in a number of areas. Some common types of nerve entrapment include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain in the wrist)
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome (pain in the foot)
- Bell's Palsy (paralysis in the face)
- Abdominal pain
- Hip, shoulder, knee or neck pain
- Sciatic pain
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Postherpetic neuralgia (after shingles)
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Central brain pain, from stroke or spinal cord injury
Some of these conditions may have other causes besides nerve compression.
Reasons for Nerve Pain
Any activity that involves incorrect posture, the use of vibrating tools, persistently carrying heavy objects, or holding oneself in an uncomfortable position, can result in nerve compression and pain. Standing, sitting, typing, carrying a musical instrument or heavy briefcase for a prolonged period all can be causative of nerve compression. Even crossing one's legs or carrying a heavy purse may be the cause of serious pain.
Varying postures, stretching limbs, taking frequent breaks, and avoiding heavy carrying and lifting may help to prevent nerve entrapment. It is also a good idea not to wear anything that compresses the flesh too tightly in order to avoiding compressing a nerve.
Nerve entrapment can also be the result of accidental injury, an underlying disease condition, such as the presence of a tumor or a neurological illness.
Symptoms of Nerve Pain
Symptoms of nerve entrapment may include unusual sensations, such as prickling, numbness, burning, or stabbing. Eventually, almost always, a compressed nerve leads to excruciating pain. In very rare cares, it may lead to paralysis.
Diagnosis of Nerve Pain
Diagnosis of nerve entrapment involves physical examination during which the medical professional attempts to trace the pathway of the affected nerve. This is often accomplished by MRI scan-directed Injections of anesthetics, corticosteroids or anti-scarring materials. Such injections may serve a dual purpose: relieving pain and pinpointing the area of injury
Treatment of Nerve Pain
In addition to treating nerve compression with injections, the condition may also be treated with spinal decompression, manipulation under anesthesia (MUA) and, as a last resort, surgery. While surgery must be performed by a surgeon, the other two methods mentioned may be performed by a chiropractor or an osteopath. Chiropractic adjustments of vertebrae or joints can provide rapid relief from pinched nerves and have the advantage of being completely non-invasive.