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Hand Nerve Pain 3D Illustration

Physio for Nerve Pain

Nerve pain is due to problems with the signals from the nerves. Nerve pain due to an injury is known as nociceptive pain. However, nerve pain that is caused by disease or damage affecting the nervous system is called neuralgia or neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is caused by a problem with the nerves, sending pain messages to the brain.

Nerve Pain Symptoms

Nerve problems can cause a variety of symptoms, often these are described as shooting pain, stabbing, burning, aching or electric shock sensations. Mild symptoms may be due to an inflamed nerve which is sending out normal pain signals. However more severe symptoms are due to a nerve which is blocked or compressed. Some examples of mild vs. more severe symptoms include:

Mild symptoms

  • Pins and needles
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Increase sensitivity

More severe symptoms

  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Paraesthesia
  • Poor reflexes

The Causes of Nerve Pain

There are many conditions which can cause nerve pain. Some of the common causes include:

  • Injury
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Diabetes
  • Shingles
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alcoholism
  • Nerve disorders

Pinched Nerve

A ‘pinched nerve’ is a layman’s term for a common nerve problem. This can be mild, due to irritation of the nerve or more severe due to compression. One of the most common nerves associated with this type of problem is the sciatic nerve.

In more severe cases the sciatic nerve can get pinched due to a disc protrusion, ligament swelling or an arthritic spur. It can also be irritated by simple day to day activities even in the absence of significant structural problems. Both scenarios can cause referred leg pain, commonly known as sciatica with the more severe situations causing nerve pain, muscle weakness, poor reflexes or sensory loss.

Nerve Pain Treatment

There are many causes of nerve pain and your physio will first determine the cause of the problem. Your physio will be able to identify where your nerve problem is coming from by assessing your symptoms. Treatment will begin with a thorough assessment and examination, including your history, to determine the cause and severity of your condition. You may be referred for further tests if needed, including an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to evaluate the severity of the injury.

Nerve pain treatment is very often effective with physiotherapy. Nerve physiotherapy is effective in bringing nerve pain relief due to nerve irritation or compression. Along with physio, nerve pain can also be treated with medications to reduce pain and sensitivity. Occasionally surgery may be required for severe cases but this is usually able to be avoided. Treatment may include:

  • Spinal mobilisation
  • Dry needling
  • Massage
  • Exercises for joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • Stretching
  • Education to minimise pressure and irritation

In addition to your treatment, you may also be given home exercises to assist with your recovery. Nerve pain can often be treated effectively with nerve physiotherapy. To get more advice about nerve pain, contact the friendly staff at Integrity Physio.

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy, Leslie Trigg, has over 13 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.