Nerve pain is an interesting issue to treat. While it can be one of the more intense types of pain, it can have different reasons for occuring.
This infographic comes from the book Sticks and Stones by DPT’s Jim Heafner and Jarod Hall.
Most have heard of the “clogged artery” analogy in cases of atherosclerosis, and a similar idea can happen to nerves and be involved in nerve pain.
“The clogged artery analogy isn’t too different than what occurs in nerve pain, such as sciatica or carpal tunnel syndrome. Similar to how a blocked artery has limited blood flow due to plaque buildup, a nerve can have limited oxygen because of extra compression or tension. The brain’s response to limited oxygen in a nerve is typically numbness, burning or a tingling sensation. These symptoms indicate that the nerve is angry. In this instance, the nerve will notify the brain regarding the potential danger or alteration from homeostasis. In the short term, changing positions and putting less stress on that body part are great strategies to temporarily unclog the nerve. To maintain healthy nerves in the long term, keeping a close eye on your nutrition, exercise and environmental factors are key. Just as these factors impact the health of your arteries, they also affect your brain and nerves.”
More often than not, nerve pain responds well to movement and exercise. This oxygenation may be a mechanism for why that is true. We need to keep this idea in mind when treating nerve pain, and numbness and tingling.