What is nerve pain?
In our bodies we have many tiny nerve branches coming out of the spinal cord to supply our limbs with power, sensation and function.
At Kensington Physio & Sports Medicine we see cases every day, of patients experiencing nerve or ‘neural’ symptoms. Patients may report signs such as tingling, numbness, sudden weakness, burning or pain referring down into their limbs, extremities or even into their face. This type of pain may indicate that a nerve has become irritated, either as it exits the spine, or somewhere along the course of its path.
An example of this may be sciatica, where the long sciatic nerve down the back of the leg becomes irritable. This could either be due to a ‘central’ spinal issue, such as a disc bulge or inflammation/irritation around the lumbar spine, or perhaps due to a tightening of the gluteal muscles compressing the neve as it passes through. We see this often in patients who sit a lot during the day, adding to the compression through the nerve.
Another example of nerve irritation may tingling in the fingers or hand. This could possibly be linked to sustained postures, where the nerve becomes continually irritated around the back of the neck, or perhaps a compression from leaning on one’s elbow all day at the desk. Trauma, scar tissue, surgery, muscle tightness and water retention are just a few more potential causes which may lead to neural symptoms.
The first thing your physio will need to identify, is the root cause behind the issue. This way we can alter the load and stress through the nerve immediately. Examples of this may be correcting posture, altering ergonomics or the way in which you move.
Other treatments we use to help reduce nerve pain may include acupuncture to release tight muscles, soft tissue work, sports taping (to help correct movement patterning), or bracing a joint to prevent extremes of movement (ie, wearing a wrist guard at night to keep the wrist in neutral). Exercises to help mobilise the nerve may be given, and of course, lots of sound advice to inform you how to avoid stressing the nerve further.
The great news is that most nerve pain will settle down within a few treatments and resolve completely. In very few cases, where there is a true anatomical reason causing ongoing symptoms (ie, a very large disc bulge, or chronic scar tissue build up), surgery may be required. If there is any cause for concern, we work alongside London’s top orthopaedic consultants who can arrange imaging or further nerve investigations.
For more information or to book in, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0207 6040040