Nerves are designed to efficiently transmit electrical impulses around the body and they have only a small ability to stretch and move to accommodate our body in different postures.
- Irritated Nerves cause pain – Nerves are made up of very sensitive tissues. They can be irritated by inflammatory swelling (sprained joint in the back), compression (hit elbow funny bone) or stretching (pull in back of the leg when touching toes)
- Pins and Needles or Numbness – This sensory feeling is caused by significant irritation to a nerve and the area of the skin that is symptomatic depends on the exact nerve root that is irritated ie S1 nerve root will give pins and needles into the lateral calf
- Sciatica – this is an old-fashioned term used to describe a blanket term of pain into the back of the leg that was considered to be caused by irritation to the sciatic nerve in the leg. It was thought it could be caused by the nerve being squashed by gluteal or piriformis muscles or by sitting too long. We now know posterior thigh pain is usually caused by irritation of the nerve root as it leaves the lumbar spine. Therefore by treating the back, the leg pain is eased.
- Referred Pain – When a nerve is irritated, the skin that is innervated by that nerve will often cause pain. This is the mechanism where you may feel a headache from a stiff neck or foot pain from a stiff pain.
- Neuropathic Pain – This type of pain is very unusual to see in the private practice setting as this pain is caused by physical damage to a nerve that occurs with a severe limb wound or amputation. Inherently these nerve injuries are traumatic so are treated in hospital. It needs to be controlled with specific nerve medication.