Nerve Entrapment (Pinched Nerve) Pain Management in Knoxville, TNNerve entrapment is a common neurological disorder in which a nerve becomes caught between other body structures. This condition has many names, including nerve compression, a pinched nerve, a trapped nerve, and radiculopathy (when a nerve root in the spinal column is affected). According to a 2014 review article published in Pain medical journal, up to 10% of the population experience pain from nerve damage at some point in their lives, often caused by nerve entrapment. In this article, we will discuss common conditions and explore available treatment options for nerve entrapment in Knoxville.
What is nerve entrapment?There are 31 pairs of spinal nerves that branch out of your spinal cord, connecting your brain to the rest of your body. They provide sensation, like pain, touch, or temperature, as well as motor function, which means they can send signals to the muscles to make them move. The main nerves divide into smaller nerves as they travel through our body. They communicate via electric impulses at an impressive speed of up to 100 meters per second. Sometimes, the surrounding tissues compress or entrap a nerve reducing its ability to transmit electrical signals. This can cause decreased function in the body part that this nerve is serving.
What causes nerve entrapment?One of the causes of nerve entrapment is injury. The injured muscles or ligaments swell from inflammation, leaving less room for a nearby nerve. In this case, the symptoms come on suddenly and usually improve as soon as the injury is healed. Chronic pinched nerve develops over time from repetitive motions, degenerative conditions, or chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis or diabetes. Nerve compression reduces blood flow to the nerve, that, in severe cases, can cause irreversible damage. Let’s look at the most common nerve entrapment/compression conditions:
Carpal Tunnel SyndromeCarpal tunnel syndrome is a compression of the median nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel between the bones and a ligament in your wrist. This nerve controls most of the fingers in your hand except the pinky. It is often caused by repetitive flexing of the wrist, such as working with vibrating tools or screwdrivers over a long period of time. It can also be a consequence of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
Cubital Tunnel SyndromeCubital tunnel syndrome is a compression of the ulnar nerve, which controls the pinky and one side of the ring finger. As it passes through the cubital tunnel at the bottom of the elbow, this nerve runs close to the skin surface so even frequent leaning on the elbow as well as bending it can cause inflammation and compression.
SciaticaSciatica is a compression of the longest nerve in our body – the sciatic nerve – that controls the sensation and movement in the legs. The most common cause of sciatica is a disc herniation between the spinal bones (vertebrae) from an injury or degeneration. The soft center of the disc seeps out compressing the root of the nerve at the exit from the spinal column.
How common is nerve entrapment?According to a 2007 review published in Neurologic Clinics, 3-5% of the population suffer from nerve compression in the lower back, including sciatica. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects 3.5% of Americans and is considerably more common in women. Cubital tunnel syndrome is slightly less common, affecting around 2% of the general population.
SymptomsThe common symptoms of any nerve entrapment are pain, tingling, and burning sensation. As the condition progresses, numbness and muscle weakness can occur. The symptoms are not limited to the site of compression and extend to the part of the body that the nerve is responsible for. For example, sciatic pain can radiate to the leg, whereas carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms can be felt in the hand and fingers.
DiagnosisDiagnosis begins with taking the patient’s medical history and reviewing the symptoms. During a physical exam, the Knoxville nerve entrapment specialist will perform a series of tests to see if the symptoms such as pain or tingling sensation can be reproduced. There are different tests depending on which nerve is affected, but many of them involve pressing on or moving the hand, arm, or leg controlled by the nerve. Reflexes, muscle strength, and sensation levels are also checked during the exam. In more severe cases, imaging tests might be used to determine the underlying cause of the nerve compression. The X-ray is useful for identifying an injury or structural changes to the bones, while CT and MRI scans help diagnose disc herniations and inflammatory diseases. Nerve conduction tests and electromyography are used to assess whether the nerve’s electric signaling function is reduced.
How is nerve entrapment treated?The treatment depends on which nerve is affected and the underlying cause of the pinched nerve. Generally, it is focused on pain relief and prevention of further damage using the following options:
- Over-the-counter painkillers
- Avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms
- Hot and cold compresses to reduce inflammation and relieve pain
- Wearing a splint or a brace to keep the pressure off the nerve
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief
ConclusionNerve entrapment can happen in different parts of the body and cause pain, tingling, and loss of sensitivity. Although many patients achieve full recovery, the more severe cases, if left untreated, may lead to permanent nerve damage and loss of function in the related body part. It is important to begin treatment early to avoid further progression of the condition. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort from a compressed nerve, contacting a doctor is the best way to get help with managing and treating the symptoms.
Treatment for Pinched Nerve / Nerve Entrapment in Knoxville, TNYour physician will ask you to rank your pain when you go for a diagnosis. Pain is described as “acute” if it has lasted for less than three weeks, and “chronic” if you’ve experienced it for longer. Omega Pain Management can help you cope with the pain of nerve entrapment in Knoxville and take control of your healing. If you’re looking for a Knoxville pain clinic, contact Igor Smelyansky, MD. Phone (856) 337-5137.
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