Nerve compression: Introduction
Nerve compression is a condition of the nervous system in which a nerve is pressed or compressed. Nerve compression results in abnormal functioning of the nerve. Typical symptoms of nerve compression include numbness, pain, and loss of function of the affected area.
The function of the nerves of the body is to transmit sensations and other information from the body to the spinal cord and brain and carry messages back from the brain to the body. There are a variety of conditions that can cause nerve compression and interfere with normal functioning of nerves.
Common conditions that cause nerve compression include carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar tunnel syndrome, which affect the forearm, wrists and hands. Pudendal nerve entrapment causes nerve compression in the pelvis, and affects that urinary system and reproductive system. Slipped disc, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis can cause nerve compression in the spine.
The way that nerve compression affects people varies widely, depending on the specific cause, the nerves affected, severity, age, general health and other factors. Typical symptoms include burning, numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness of the affected area. More severe permanent complications may also occur. For additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of nerve compression.
People at risk for nerve compression include those who frequently engage in repetitive, strenuous actions or jarring of the hands and wrists, such as keyboarding, sewing, or using a jack hammer. These activities can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar tunnel syndrome. People at risk for developing slipped disc, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, and spondylolisthesis include older adults and the elderly, people with osteoporosis, who are overweight or obese, or have strained or injured the back. People at risk for developing pudendal nerve entrapment, which affects the pelvis, urinary system and reproductive system, include pregnant women and people who bicycle for prolonged periods of time.
Other risk factors for developing nerve compression include having rheumatoid arthritis, menopause, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and acromegaly. These conditions can result in compression of a nerve by causing fluid retention, swelling, or abnormal bone anatomy.
Making a diagnosis of nerve compression begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and the types of activities a person is performing often that may lead to nerve compression. A physical and thorough neurological examination is also done. This includes having the patient perform certain movements to see if they result in pain or numbness.
Diagnostic testing may include special tests that test the nerves and muscles. These include an electromyography, which tests muscles movement, and a nerve conduction velocity test, which identifies how fast nerves conduct electrical impulses.
Medical testing may also include tests that can help determine any underlying medical disease or conditions, such as an X-ray, which can reveal a bone fracture, which may cause nerve compression. Blood tests may be done to rule-out or diagnose other conditions that can lead to nerve compression, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.
It is possible that a diagnosis of nerve compression can be missed or delayed because early symptoms can be mild or similar to symptoms of other conditions, such as bursitis. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic nerve compression, refer to misdiagnosis of nerve compression.
Treatment for nerve compression varies depending on the type of nerve affected, the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and the type of work and activities a person does. Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce symptoms and permanent complications, such as disability. Treatment options include modifying activities, orthopedic devices, medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of nerve compression. ...more »
Nerve compression: Compression of a nerve that becomes trapped in a confined space due to any cause e.g. trauma, inflammation or a disease process. This usually occurs near joints. The resulting pressure on the nerve can be very painful and if left untreated can result in damage to the nerve and eventually muscle weakness and wasting. Conditions such as bone spurs, joint swelling due to injury, cysts and trauma can result in nerve entrapment. The exact symptoms will depend on which nerve is trapped and the duration and severity of the entrapment.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Nerve compression is available below.
Nerve compression: Symptoms
The types and severity of symptoms of nerve compression vary between individuals and the specific type of nerve or nerves that are affected. In many cases, symptoms can be vague and develop slowly, such as in carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms can also occur more rapidly and dramatically.
General symptoms of nerve compression due to carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar tunnel syndrome ...more symptoms »
Nerve compression: Treatments
With early recognition and treatment, it may be possible in some cases to reverse the symptoms of nerve compression before permanent damage occurs. The first step in treatment is prevention. The most successful treatment and prevention plans use a multipronged approach.
Prevention of pudendal nerve entrapment includes ensuring that bicyclists use a properly ...more treatments »
Nerve compression: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of nerve compression may be delayed or missed because early symptoms, such as pain, tingling, burning and weakness, may develop slowly over weeks or months. Symptoms of nerve compression are also similar to symptoms of other common conditions and diseases. These include aging, arthritis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, bursitis, back strain, diabetic peripheral ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Nerve compression
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symptoms of Nerve compression
Treatments for Nerve compression
- Physiotherapy, medication e.g. anti-inflammatories and painkillers, surgery
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Home Diagnostic Testing
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Wrongly Diagnosed with Nerve compression?
Nerve compression: Complications
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Causes of Nerve compression
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Nerve compression: Undiagnosed Conditions
Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:
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- Chronic Pain Disorders -- serious medical disorders that may be undiagnosed:
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Misdiagnosis and Nerve compression
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Nerve compression: Research Doctors & Specialists
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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Nerve compression
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Nerve compression: Animations
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Prognosis for Nerve compression
Prognosis for Nerve compression:
Varies depending on underlying cause, severity and duration of the compression and promptness and adherence to treatment therapies.
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Research about Nerve compression
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Nerve compression: Broader Related Topics
Types of Nerve compression
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