When it comes to nerve related disorders, several different types of conditions are triggered in various parts of your body. An incorrect diagnosis or guesswork may leave you confused about the symptoms, as well as your treatment options. Although physical therapy is quite effective in addressing nerve problems, it is important to understand your exact problem.
- Radiculopathy or ‘pinched nerve’ describes various conditions in which one or more of your nerves are not functioning properly.
- Plexopathy is a disorder that affects an entire network or region of nerves, including the lymph vessels and blood vessels. This typically occurs in the:
- Brachial Plexus – spinal cord, shoulder, arms and hand.
- Lumbosacral Plexus – lower back and pelvic region, posterior thigh and most of the lower leg and foot.
If you are suffering from a nerve-related condition, no matter which part of the body is affected, the symptoms usually manifest in the affected area as:
- Shooting or burning pain
- Numbness, tingling or weakness of muscles
- Diminished reflexes, sensory deficits or motor impairment (loss of mobility or function in the affected body part).
Battle Your Nerve Disorders through Physical Therapy
Here’s a quick rundown on the causes and treatments for nerve pains and disorders.
- Radiculopathy/ Neuropathy: Pinched nerve or other neuropathic pains could be a result of many different conditions or injuries, including, herniated disc, sciatica, spinal stenosis, spinal arthritis, spondylolisthesis, bone spurs, tumors of the spine or other degenerative disc diseases. Factors such as being overweight, having diabetes, practicing improper weightlifting, or maintaining a poor posture are added risk factors for developing radiculopathy.
- Diagnosis: The diagnosis for cervical, lumbar or thoracic radiculopathy is carried out through X-rays, MRI, CT scans, as well as nerve function testing in the form of Electromyography (EMG).
- Treatment: In addition to non-steroidal drugs, cortisol injections and narcotic painkillers, your doctor may prescribe ice and heat application, collars or braces, and physical therapy treatments. In extreme cases, you may need surgical recourse.
- Prevention: Developing good core strength, doing proper stretching exercises, maintaining a healthy weight and posture, and practicing proper lifting techniques, are some of the ways to prevent nerve compression.
- Plexopathy: For plexopathy, the causes and symptoms depend on which nerve group has been affected. Brachial plexopathy may be a result of certain contact sports, motor vehicle accidents, a side effect of radiation treatments for cancer patients, or a birth defect. Lumbosacral plexopathy may be trigged by pelvic or abdominal tumors, an aneurysm, endometriosis, accident trauma or radiation. Injuries, trauma, hematomas, or autoimmune reactions damage the network of nerve fibers at a specific location within the spinal nerves, leading to brachial or lumbosacral plexopathy. The diagnosis and treatments of plexopathy are similar to the radiculopathy or neuropathic disorders.
Whether you are suffering from radiculopathy or plexopathy, physical therapy treatments will help in alleviating the pain, strengthening the muscles, regaining the range of motion and preventing joint stiffness. At Medical Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania (MRCP), we offer the latest techniques in physical therapy, along with comprehensive diagnostics and customized treatment plans. Our qualified physical therapists have over two decades of experience in treating nerve disorders amongst residents of Philadelphia and its surrounding areas.