“The only thing that relieves pressure is preparation.” – Tom Kite
Most people have experienced a “pinched” or compressed nerve, often in the arm, and the resulting sensation of tingling or numbness that results. We often refer to it as having “fallen asleep” and it typically resolves itself within minutes.
A pinched nerve has common signs and symptoms that include:
- Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve
- Sharp, aching or burning pain, which may radiate outward
- Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
- Muscle weakness in the affected area
Chronic or recurring nerve entrapment issues and the problems related to a pinched nerve may be worse when you’re sleeping.
Nerve Compression Syndrome
Nerve entrapment, trapped nerves, pinched nerves and nerve impingement is also known as nerve compression syndrome.
According to an article at HealthIne.com,
“Nerve compression syndrome occurs when a nerve is squeezed or compacted. It typically occurs at a single location. Nerves in the torso, limbs, and extremities may be affected. Common symptoms include pain, numbness, and muscle weakness at the site of the nerve.”
The danger is when the condition is left untreated, or only treated superficially. In certain instances, the cause of the nerve impingement is a bulging or herniated disk in the spine. Known as nerve root impingement, this condition can lead to pinched nerves causing radiculopathy.
While the symptoms are annoying, often painful and disruptive, delayed treatment can result in the nerve root becoming permanently damaged. A damaged nerve root can then result in irreversible weakness, numbness, paresthesias, pain and even muscle atrophy.
What Causes Nerve Entrapment
Among other causes, minor accidents resulting in sprains, fractures, and broken bones can also cause pinched or trapped nerves. In these instances, a nerve becomes trapped or compressed when too much pressure is put on the nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons and even scar tissue.
On the other hand, along with injuries from accidents, trapped nerves can result from repetitive injuries such as typing and other repetitive manual tasks. And all these may lead to:
- Reduced blood flow to the nerve
- Swelling in the nerve and surrounding structures
- Damage to the nerve’s myelin sheath
- Structural changes in the nerve
As a result of these changes, the nerve’s ability to send and receive messages is disrupted and this can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, and reduced function.
In addition to trauma injuries and repetitive injury, some medical conditions can trigger or cause patients to become more susceptible to nerve compression syndromes. These include:
- pregnancy or menopause
- congenital defects
- neural disorders
- autoimmune disorders
- thyroid dysfunction
- high blood pressure
- tumors and cysts
Addressing Nerve Entrapment
Because of the variety of types of trapped nerves and the number of possible causes, a thorough assessment is needed to narrow down the likely issue and determine the best course of treatment.
Healthy and unobstructed muscle tissues glide smoothly and cleanly across other muscles, tendons, ligaments, lymphatic channels and nerves. But this intended movement can become obstructed by scar tissue and adhesions.
For athletes and other physically active patients, nerve entrapment commonly is due to this internal tissue scarring that has resulted from injuries associated with repetitive strain, or acute athletic injuries.
This scarring and adhesions often prevents normal movement of the nerve tissues with their surrounding structures. Over time, this can result in problems such as chronic pain, joint stress and friction or improper interaction with nearby structures resulting in inflammation. This inflammation then leads to pain, fluid accumulation and restricted motion and flexibility.
And, in many instances, nerves can become entrapped in the tissue and compressed.
Normally, a type of surgery known as neurolysis might be recommended to free the nerve and bring relief. A summary published on a National Institutes of Health website noted,
“Painful neuropathies can be caused by nerve compression or neuromas. Classically, open approaches have been made to decrease pain through the removal of the neuroma, the neurolysis of perineuronal scar adhesions, and the transposition of neuroma to soft tissue to avoid direct trauma to the nerve. However, relapse is frequent, as the healing process causes the formation of new internal adhesions.”
Another Response to Nerve Entrapment
A radically different and non-invasive approach to treating nerve entrapment is through the use of Active Release Technique®, or ART®, can be used to release scar tissue adhesions on the muscles and fascia, the smooth connective tissue that covers the muscles.
Soft tissue injuries such as nerve impingement caused by adhesions cannot be detected by machines or orthopedic tests. However, at Pain and Performance Solutions, we can use ART® to determine where the adhesions are and how severe the soft tissue injury is, simply by touch.
ART® is used to break down the adhered tissues in the body. These adhesions are not solely the result of injuries. For example, if certain muscles are exposed to an unusual amount of stress the body attempts to reinforce the muscles by increasing tension and building up collagen fibers.
While these collagen fibers and tension help adapt the body to the specific stress it is being exposed to, such as repetitive motion, these adaptations may eventually prevent proper tissue movement and possibly result in entrapped nerves.
With Active Release Technique® a combination of pressure and tension is applied and movement on the part of the client – usually active – breaks up these collagen fibers and the scar tissue, restoring a normal range of motion and blood flow. In addition, pain-free movement, endurance, and strength is subsequently restored, as well.
Restoring Pain-Free Motion With Pain and Performance Solutions
When treating any injury or pinched nerve issues causing chronic pain, it’s important to have patience. Because time is what’s needed for complete healing. We stress this because we’ve seen too many people rush back into their work or sports activity before they are completely healed.
Treating your nerve entrapment is much like treating any other injury: it can’t be rushed, which would likely do more damage and possibly never achieve full recovery.
At Pain and Performance Solutions we can help you by treating your pinched nerve, so please reach out to us today. You can contact us at (707) 636-4404 or use our online contact form and let’s start the journey back to your body’s ultimate healthy state.