Ever heard of entrapment neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome?
Repetitive motion disorder?
Nerve compression syndrome?
How about a “trapped nerve”?
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of at least one of these conditions.
These medical conditions are entrapment neuropathies.
Entrapment neuropathies or compression neuropathies are a type of peripheral neuropathy caused by direct pressure on one nerve. The pressure can be caused by trauma or injury to the specific nerve, repetitive use of a specific part of the body, a cast or brace that doesn’t fit properly or just frequently sitting with your arm over the back of a chair.
If you’re experiencing
– A burning or stinging pain in one part of your body
– Muscle weakness
You could be suffering from entrapment neuropathy. To avoid permanent nerve damage, you need to see a doctor immediately, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician, for proper diagnosis and treatment.
What Exactly Causes Entrapment Neuropathy?
You might be wondering why something as simple as sitting with your elbows on the table all the time can cause entrapment neuropathy for you but your Uncle Harry worked in a coal mine for 40 years swinging a pick axe and never had a problem with his arms, back or anything else.
Entrapment neuropathy occurs when some kind of external pressure disrupts the flow of blood through vessels that supply specific nerves. This oxygen starvation can sometimes occur because of internal problems as well such as lesions, cysts or tumors or even substantial weight gain. When this happens over and over again, the nerve is starved of its oxygen supply and becomes damaged and eventually scarred. Once this happens, it no longer functions properly.
If you have a chronic condition like diabetes that already compromises your blood flow, the fact that Uncle Harry never had these issues and you do is probably more indicative of your overall physical condition than genetics. Your body is just more susceptible to this type of injury. You need to be more mindful of how you move and use whichever part of your body is affected.
How Can We Diagnose Entrapment Neuropathy?
The symptoms you report will vary depending upon which part of your body is affected by entrapment neuropathy. Your condition will probably start with tingling or pain in the nerves followed by loss of sensation or numbness. Muscle weakness will be the last to develop and usually occurs because the muscles have atrophied due to lack of use (i.e., your hand hurts so you stop using it as much).
Entrapment or compression neuropathy can usually be diagnosed based on symptoms. Be sure you keep a good record of when and how your symptoms started.
We may use nerve conduction studies to confirm the diagnosis and rule out the involvement of other nerves. If entrapment neuropathy is suspected, we may then order an MRI to determine which nerve is damaged, how badly and to see if an internal issue such as a tumor or cyst is putting pressure on the nerve.
It is vitally important that you choose a health care provider with the clinical skills and experience to recognize your symptoms for what they are and distinguish them from other diseases. Entrapment neuropathies can mimic other conditions and vice versa. The longer it takes to get the appropriate diagnosis and treatment, like the treatment protocol used exclusively by our NeuropathyDR® trained clinicians, the more likely you are to have permanent nerve damage.
Treating Entrapment Neuropathy
If we determine that an underlying medical issue is causing your entrapment neuropathy, such as a tumor, cyst, inflammation or even weight gain, steps will be taken to first treat that condition.
If a tumor or cyst is the underlying problem, surgery may be ordered to remove the growth. If you have issues with inflammation or weight gain, we will work with you to design a weight loss program and nutrition plan to resolve either of these issues.
The nutrition counseling provided by our Doctors is part of an overall lifestyle modification plan that will help you control your weight and increase your physical activity, within your abilities, to reduce the likelihood of your entrapment neuropathy causing permanent nerve damage or recurring once your immediate problem is taken care of.
In concert with these two steps to treat your entrapment neuropathy, we often prescribe manual threrapy to assist your damaged nerve in healing and open up the flow of blood to help the nerves repair themselves.
All of these steps are integral parts of the exclusive NeuropathyDR® protocols used in our clinics designed specifically for the treatment of peripheral neuropathies, including entrapment neuropathy in all its forms.
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