Nerve Irritation: EP Wellness and Functional Medicine Clinic
Nerve irritation occurs when the nerves exiting the spine become irritated and sensitized. Also known as nerve gliding restriction, it is a condition whereby a nerve becomes irritated by inflamed swelling of structures close to the nerve, such as joints, ligaments, muscles, or discs, that have sustained an accumulative strain which results in swelling and inflammation. A thorough chiropractic assessment and examination can diagnose the extent of the irritation and develop a personalized treatment plan.
When swelling and inflammation interfere with the nerve root, the nerve transmits signals to the brain to let it know there is a threat. The brain interprets these signals and creates a protective response to avoid worsening the damage to the nerve. The protective reactions vary from person to person but can include the following:
- Muscle tightness and guarding
- Aching sensation
- Radiating discomfort or pain
- Pins and needles
- Nerve root irritation also inhibits the body from recovering as fast as it should.
Nerve irritation is not to be confused with nerve root compression or radiculopathy. This is when the nerve becomes compressed/pinched, resulting in the loss of its functions like muscle strength and sensation. Sometimes individuals with nerve irritation can also experience increased neural tension. The nerves adapt to the mechanical loads placed on them through regular movements. Restrictions to neural mobility can cause symptoms to worsen along the pathway and distribution of the nerve.
- The nervous system consists of the brain, spine, and nerve branches.
- The branches, similar to electrical cables, cannot stretch.
- Tension is generated when straightening out body areas, creating a pull and gliding of the nerve to the spinal cord.
- When nerve irritation occurs, signals are sent to protect the body, brain, spine, and branches.
Most commonly, nerve irritation occurs when a structure adjacent to the nerve; this could be a joint, ligament, and/or muscle that accumulates strain and becomes dysfunctional, swollen, inflamed, and/or spasms resulting from protective guarding.
- Mild nerve irritation can include accumulated strain from postural overload and swelling from a minor tear in an adjacent ligament.
- Often nothing shows as a problem on an MRI scan.
- Severe nerve irritation can include disc herniation and shows up on an MRI scan; surgery could be required in some cases.
- Persist even after days of rest, stretching, targeted exercises, avoiding movements, etc.
- Stretching feels good at first, but the pain returns or worsens a few hours later or the next day.
- The irritation blocks the effective recovery of muscle, joint, tendon, and ligament discomfort symptoms.
Treatment involves various therapies and strengthening the supporting structures while relaxing and releasing tight structures to avoid recurring injuries. Chiropractic care realigns the spine, corrects joints that have shifted out of place, helps to regulate the nervous system’s function, and relieves irritation and inflammation. Whether in the form of an adjustment, traction, or guided exercise, all systems in the body are moved closer to a balanced state. This includes the:
- Nervous system
- Immune system
- Respiratory system
- Circulatory system
- Endocrine system
- Skeletal system
- All help support the body’s self-healing process and increase the nervous system’s function.
The chiropractic team will guide the patient through the rehabilitation process to get back to full strength.
Peroneal Nerve Irritation
Ellis, Richard F, and Wayne A Hing. “Neural mobilization: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials with an analysis of therapeutic efficacy.” The Journal of manual & manipulative therapy vol. 16,1 (2008): 8-22. doi:10.1179/106698108790818594
Gibson, William, et al. “Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) for neuropathic pain in adults.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 9,9 CD011976. 14 Sep. 2017, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011976.pub2
O’Shea, Simone D et al. “Peripheral muscle strength training in COPD: a systematic review.” Chest vol. 126,3 (2004): 903-14. doi:10.1378/chest.126.3.903
Rozmaryn, L M et al. “Nerve and tendon gliding exercises and the conservative management of carpal tunnel syndrome.” Journal of hand therapy: official Journal of the American Society of Hand Therapists vol. 11,3 (1998): 171-9. doi:10.1016/s0894-1130(98)80035-5
Sipko, Tomasz, et al. “Mobility of cervical spine and postural equilibrium in patients with spinal overload syndrome.” Ortopedia, traumatologia, rehabilitacja vol. 9,2 (2007): 141-8.
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The information herein on "Nerve Irritation: EP Wellness and Functional Medicine Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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