Nerve irritation is a condition involving the mechanical trauma to the nerves, specifically on the spinal cord. Nerve irritation can have various causes, but the symptoms are generally similar regardless of the cause. Nerve irritation may involve all levels of the spine, but the most common locations of nerve irritation are the lumbar and cervical spine.
The most common cause of nerve irritation is nerve impingement or the pinching of the nerves in the spine. This results in a nerve being sandwiched or pinched by two bones in the vertebral column, which is known as vertebral or spinal subluxations. There may also be pinching of the nerves by a bulging disc or being trapped in a bony overgrowth or a narrowed lumen of the spinal column. Aside from skeletal problems that may result in nerve irritation, the soft tissues may also cause irritation of the nerve. The ligaments, muscles and fascia may also pinch the nerves in cases of soft tissue injuries.
Nerve irritation may be mild to severe, depending on the extent of impingement or irritation. Common symptoms of nerve irritation include:
- Numbness and tingling sensations
Numbness and tingling sensations or paresthesia in the peripheral areas in the body is the most common symptom of nerve irritation. As the nerves become irritated or trapped, the normal nerve impulse transmission is disrupted in the sensory neurons leading to sensation problems such as tingling and numbness. Pins and needles may also be felt. When nerve irritation affects the lumbar area, it may lead to numbness in the buttocks and lower limbs. When it occurs in the cervical area, the symptoms are usually felt in the shoulders and arms.
Pain is another common symptom of nerve irritation. Pain usually develops when significant entrapment or irritation occurs such as in the case of a cauda equina syndrome in the lumbar area that involves entrapment of the bundle of nerves in the sacrum. Pain is usually the result of inflammation in the nerves as a result of tissue injury. The nerves are responsible for signaling the brain for pain sensations so any inflammation in the area may cause significant pain on the areas below the level of the affected nerve.
- Loss of Function
Los of function is usually a transient symptom of nerve irritation. Since the nerves are also responsible for signaling the muscles to move to undergo a musculoskeletal movement, nerve irritation may cause the inability to move a certain part of the body. Loss of function may be different from paralysis because paralysis is usually permanent. Once patients undergo rehabilitation such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or chiropractic care, the affected area usually regain their maximum functioning.
Paralysis may be the most severe manifestation of nerve irritation. This results in severe cases of nerve entrapments where the nerves become permanently damaged. Paralysis is permanent and irreversible, although patients can be taught on how to maximize their functioning through the use of assistive devices.
In order to manage symptoms of nerve irritation, the cause should be treated. The various causes of nerve irritation also have different treatment modalities so prompt and correct diagnosis is essential, and a visit to your local Wesley Chapel chiropractor could get you started on the path to recovery.