Nerve pain is often associated with diabetes, but this is far from the only cause. Multiple health conditions can lead a person to experience symptoms associated with nerve issues. Neurological (nerve) pain can occur from an injury resulting from a traumatic accident or associated with spinal issues. Other conditions, such as excessive alcohol intake, malnutrition, or prolonged chemotherapy, can also lead to nerve pain.
The good news is that regardless of the cause of a nerve injury, neuropathic physical therapy in NEPA may help stop nerve pain. Physical therapists have many treatment options designed to help improve a patient’s nerve pain, along with its associated symptoms of burning, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.
How Does Nerve Pain Occur?
Among its many other tasks, the spinal column acts as a housing unit for complex nerve bundles, allowing for the passage of intelligent nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body, including the extremities. Sometimes a person may experience spinal stenosis, a brachial plexus injury, or a spinal disc herniation so severe that it entraps one or more nerves that send and receive messages to and from an extremity such as the arm, hand, foot, and ankle.
When a nerve becomes injured, whether through a traumatic injury such as an accident or an illness such as diabetes, the nearby muscles may no longer receive the (nerve) messages they require from the brain to provide movement. These muscles may become weak to the point where a person may have difficulty performing simple tasks such as climbing a stair, using a can opener, or turning on their vehicle’s ignition. Additionally, they may experience a range of symptoms, including a “pins and needles” feeling in the affected area, numbness, burning sensations, tingling sensations, and pain.
This type of injury can occur beyond the spinal column as well. If a person has a severe injury along an extremity such as the elbow or along the leg, the nerves that pass through these areas may be injured as well, and the person may experience nerve issues even past the area of the original injury.
In addition, especially when there is a spinal injury, referred pain is fairly common. In other words, a patient may be experiencing symptoms in their shoulder and under the armpit, but the original point of injury is a pinched nerve in the cervical area. Sciatica is another form of referred pain where a person may experience a painful burning sensation down one or both legs, but the nerve entrapment is actually occurring in the lower spine.
How Physical Therapy Can Help Nerve Pain
Once a physician or our doctor of physical therapy has determined where a patient’s nerve injury stems from, they may include physical therapy as part of the patient’s treatment plan. A physical therapist will likely include various treatments to address the multiple issues typically associated with a nerve injury. Treatment typically encompasses pain relief, hands-on manual manipulations to open up the area where the nerve(s)are being compressed, and exercises to help muscles regain their former level of strength. Depending upon the area(s) affected by the injury, it may also be necessary to include specific exercises that will help improve balance, coordination, and dexterity.
Some physical therapists will employ aquatic therapy as part of their patient’s treatment plans. Aquatic therapy provides a safe environment that addresses essential factors such as reducing pressure on potentially vulnerable joints, healing tissues, and allowing a person to work on muscle strengthening without the risk of falling. The warmth of the water can also help improve pain levels and increase flexibility, allowing the patient to get more out of a physical therapy session than if they performed the same exercises out of the water.
See What Physical Therapy Can Do for Your Nerve Pain
Although nerve pain can be difficult to deal with, it can often be treated with the right care. Physical therapy can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from nerve pain, and at Cawley Physical Therapy, we can provide the treatment you need. Our team will work with you to create a treatment plan that provides relief from nerve pain and help you work towards feeling better.
Schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in NEPA at Cawley Physical Therapy today.