Nerve Pain Handout
WHAT IS NERVE PAIN?
Nerve pain is typically thought of as radiating pain down the arms or legs with diagnosis such as Sciatica. This pain occurs via the peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nerves connect your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. These nerves connect your brain and body to express danger. Anywhere along the path of these nerves a negative stimulus can cause symptoms.
HOW DO NERVES HEAL?
Nerves heal just like any other tissue in the body. When there is compression on the nerve it produces pain. Nerves heal by releasing this compression while improving both axoplasmic flow and blood flow to promote healing. Compression can come from within the nerve (axoplasmic flow), and from surrounding tissues (bones, muscles, etc.). Improving axoplasmic flow may involve improving certain nutrients and incorporating neurodynamic techniques such as nerve flossing. To improve outside compression forces various techniques such as A.R.T, FAKTR/ASTYM/GRASTON, and cupping. Sometimes you may need a variety of techniques to make a profound and lasting change.
HOW DOES NERVE PAIN BEHAVE?
Nerve pain can be a fickle thing. Physical activity, your emotional state, location of the pain, nutritional state, compression, and your surroundings (e.g., work, home, traveling) can all influence how nerves behave. We also like to think when something is injured it is felt right away and when pain is gone it is healed. Unfortunately, an injured nerve may not create symptoms until months later. Because of this, it can also take time to re-heal a nerve completely.
If the tissue(s) near the nerve are unhealthy, then the nerve may take longer to heal. Often, the blood supply to the nerve will also supply the tissue(s) around the nerve. Sometimes the symptoms you feel are influenced by the tissue that the nerve supplies or that interacts with the nerve.
WHAT DOES NERVE PAIN FEEL LIKE?
- Symptoms may include: shooting, burning, shocking, or stinging sensations.
- Other common symptoms may include: numbness, weakness, a deep ache, cramping, and sensations of warmth and cold.
- Everyone is unique. Therefore, the list above is not exhaustive. You may experience other symptoms that are hard to describe and that is okay. Do your best to put your symptoms into words.
- As your nerve pain decrease, your symptoms may change.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR NERVE PAIN
- Our first goal is to identify where your nerve pain is originating. Is the pain coming from inside the nerve, outside the nerve, or both?
- If pain is originating from inside the nerve, then your chiropractor will most likely discuss chemical (inflammatory) interventions, dry needling, and simple neurodynamic exercises to target pain reduction.
- If the pain is originating from outside the nerve, then your chiropractor may discuss myofascial release options to decrease the compression such as A.R.T., dry needling, cupping, and GRASTON/FAKTR/ASTYM to reduce symptoms. Other more advanced physical therapy techniques will also be incorporated at the appropriate time during the phase of healing.
- If the pain is originating from both, then priority is on the main pain generating mechanism first and then incorporating other techniques along the way when appropriate.
- Other non-direct approaches such as deep breathing techniques and emotional therapy can help aid in pain reduction. Emotional pain can cause a chemical cascade of inflammation to the nerve.
- Remember, nerves are sensitive!