Peripheral Nerve Pain & Entrapment Neuropathies
There are several different types of nerve compression syndromes. Each one affects a different peripheral nerve. The following are some of the most common types of nerve compression syndromes:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common type of nerve compression syndrome. It occurs when the median nerve is compressed at the wrist. The median nerve extends from the upper arm to the thumb. At the wrist, it passes through a structure called the carpal tunnel. Excess pressure on the wrist may cause swelling, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome is the second-most common type of nerve compression syndrome. Also known as ulnar neuropathy or ulnar nerve entrapment at elbow, it occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed at the elbow. The ulnar nerve is responsible for the sensation that you get when you hit your funny bone. It passes close to the skin at the elbow. Putting too much pressure on the elbow may cause swelling, which can lead to ulnar tunnel syndrome.
Intercostal neuralgia is neuropathic pain involving the intercostal nerves. These are the nerves that arise from the spinal cord, below the ribs. Rib Pain after a strain or fracture is present due to this type of nerve pain called intercostal neuralgia. Intercostal neuralgia tends to cause thoracic pain, which affects your chest wall and upper trunk.
Causes of Nerve Compression Syndrome
Nerve compression syndrome is often caused by repetitive injuries. These injuries may occur in the workplace due to repeated movements related to your job duties. For example, repeated overextension of the wrist while typing on a keyboard, using a mouse, or playing the piano can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Accidents such as sprains, fractures, and broken bones can also cause nerve compression syndrome.
How is it Diagnosed?
Dr Dorota Gribbin will assess your symptoms during a physical examination using diagnostic tests to identify nerve compression syndrome. Some tests used to diagnose rarer forms of nerve compression syndrome include:
- nerve conduction tests
For carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel syndrome, diagnostic tests aren’t always necessary. Still, they may provide helpful information about the location and severity of the compression.
Treatment: Treatment for nerve compression syndrome often begins with lifestyle changes and noninvasive therapies. Treating an underlying condition causing nerve compression syndrome may also ease symptoms. Dr. Gribbin utilizes Non-Surgical Decompression and Blocks.
Lifestyle changes: Avoiding movements that cause pain, adopting ergonomic strategies at work and at home, or changing job duties may improve symptoms. When obesity is the cause of nerve compression syndrome, losing weight can improve symptoms.
Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help improve your flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the affected area. Physical therapy can also help relieve symptoms such as pain and numbness.
Medication: Medication can help relieve symptoms of nerve compression syndrome such as pain and inflammation. The type of medication prescribed depends on the severity of symptoms. Some drugs commonly prescribed to manage symptoms caused by nerve compression syndrome include:
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin
- Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, which are injected directly around the nerve with ultrasound guidance.
Orthotic Devices: In some cases of nerve compression syndrome, a doctor or physical therapist may recommend a splint wrist or a brace to help you avoid putting pressure on the nerve.
Home Remedies: The following home remedies may prevent or relieve symptoms of nerve compression syndrome:
- icing the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes
- applying topical creams, such as menthol
- stopping activities that cause pain
- taking regular breaks when doing repetitive tasks
- wearing a splint or brace
- using relaxation exercises
- keeping the affected area warm
- elevating the affected area
- doing stretches and exercises to improve strength and flexibility