When peripheral nerves are damaged by being compressed, stretched or severed we experience pain. In physiotherapy, the most commonly seen injuries associated with nerve damage are those of the motor and sensory nerves. Damage to the motor nerves will show the following symptoms: 1) Muscle weakness and wasting 2) Muscle twitching 3) Paralysis of the limb. Damage to sensory nerves will show the following symptoms: 1) Sharp radiating, intense pain 2) Burning sensation 3) Electric shock sensation 4) Pins and needles sensations 5) Reduced or hyper-sensitive to touch. Nerve pain can be very painful and may need a course of pain medication along with physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapy treatment usually involves treating the surrounding tissues and limbs which have been affected by the damaged nerve.
The importance of physiotherapy in the treatment of nerve damage:
Nerve damage is commonly seen in patients attending physiotherapy clinics. A ‘trapped nerve’ or ‘nerve compression ‘ is considered nerve damaged. Your physiotherapist will assess to see what is causing the compression and though a range of manual techniques and other modalities the nerve can be released and relieve the patients symptoms. Usually both types of nerves will be damaged during an injury so a combination of the symptoms above may present to the physiotherapist.
If you have completely ruptured a peripheral nerve it may require surgery. An incomplete rupture will regenerate but very slowly. Peripheral nerves will grow approximately 1mm per day or sometimes less. Scar tissue can build up during this slow re-growth and cause further complications. It is important that if you have nerve damage that you are seen by your physiotherapist and GP.