Some injuries and conditions are pretty straightforward and relatively routine to fix and treat. Fractures, sprains and strains, even muscle or ligament tears. Nerves, on the other hand…they’re tricky. Why? Because nerve pain can stem from a variety of reasons, and it can present itself in many different–but painful–ways to different people. Fortunately, physical therapy can effectively treat nerve injuries and pain, and that’s what we do here at our Irving location.
All About Nerve Pain
First off, there are quite a few different types of nerve pain (also known as neuropathy, neuralgia, and neuropathic pain). Some of these types include:
- Peripheral neuropathy: damage to the peripheral nerves that send messages from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body
- Autonomic neuropathy: damage to the nerves that control involuntary bodily functions, including blood pressure, temperature control, digestion, and bladder function
- Entrapment neuropathy: pain caused by compression and/or irritation of peripheral nerves as they travel through narrow anatomical spaces (the most common type is carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Focal neuropathy: damage to single nerves, often in the hand, head, torso, or leg (often caused by diabetes)
- Phantom limb syndrome: when nerves near amputation sites (arms, legs, or smaller appendages) misfire, sending faulty pain signals to the brain; the brain then thinks it’s receiving pain signals from the amputated limb or body part
- Trigeminal neuralgia: a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain
The causes of nerve pain can vary but often it’s brought on by medical conditions (diabetes, Guillain-Barre syndrome, and thyroid are common), diseases (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), injury, infection, limb loss, vitamin B deficiencies, and spinal injuries. Nerve pain tends to be chronic, leaving millions of people in quite a bit of pain for many years without proper treatment.
Nerve pain also varies from person to person and depending upon the nerve damage or injury. Those with nerve injuries may experience sudden and sharp pain, shooting and stabbing pain, and burning sensations, along with being very touch-sensitive.
What to Do If You Experience Nerve Pain
If you’re experiencing peripheral nerve injury pain or symptoms such as weakness, numbness, tingling, or loss of feeling in a limb, seek medical attention right away. Other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- Loss of sensation
- Decreased coordination in affected limb
- Paralysis or weakness in muscles or parts of the body affected by the nerve(s)
- Bowel or bladder control issues
- Intolerance to certain temperatures
- Impaired balance or falls
- Excessive sweating or skin dryness
- Flushed or pale skin
- Decreased ability to participate in normal activities
These are all potentially serious symptoms of nerve injury, and it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will most likely want to run tests to determine the cause in order to treat the condition.
Treating Nerve Injuries
Fortunately, many treatments exist for nerve injuries and pain. Over-the-counter pain medication, prescription medications and creams, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and nerve blocks (often through local anesthetics, steroids, or pain medication injections) are generally effective medical treatments.
Lifestyle changes can also help those with nerve damage avoid further pain. For diabetics, more exercise, a healthy diet, and close monitoring of blood sugar levels can ease or completely eliminate nerve pain. Those who sit at a desk for work all day can reduce nerve pain by changing their work setup, standing more, and stretching.
Physical and massage therapy have also proven quite effective when it comes to relieving symptoms of neuropathic pain.
Physical Therapy for Nerve Injuries
Left untreated, neuropathic pain can be a lifelong struggle that can ultimately lead to disability, as well as complications such as depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. That’s why physical therapy is so important when it comes to nerve injuries and pain. When you come to see us at Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, you’ll have a thorough discussion with an experienced physical therapist who will work closely with you to create the right treatment plan based on your pain level, physical condition, and goals.
Some common PT treatments include:
- Nerve gliding activities: Exercises that “glide” and move your nerves can often help manage nerve pain while promoting healing.
- Coordination/balance activities: As both of these functions can be impacted by nerve injury, activities focused on coordination and balance can help improve these areas, which also decreases your likelihood of falling.
- Education: Knowing how to deal with your nerve pain is one of the most effective tools you can have. Your physical therapist here at Physical Therapy NOW can provide helpful routines, techniques, and information that will help you feel better, stay safe, prevent further issues, and live a normal and healthy life.
We’re ready to help you at Physical Therapy NOW in Irving, Texas. Call us today at (214) 225-0291 to set up your first appointment and get started on your road to recovery.