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Can Physio Help with Nerve Pain?

Nerve pain or irritation affects up to one-third of the population and is commonly associated with lower back or neck injuries. If you are suffering from nerve pain, you be wondering, can physiotherapy treatment help?

Nerve pain is complicated, and it can affect everyone differently. Typically, nerve fibres become irritated following long-term compression or inflammation leading to stabbing burning sensations and occasionally numbness. 

Can Physio Help with Nerve Pain? 

So, can physio help with nerve pain? In severe cases, an irritated nerve can be debilitating and lead to a detriment in quality of life. The good news is physiotherapy can help. At NQ Physio, we understand that everyone experience of pain is different, which is why we develop customised persistent pain management programs for each client. In this article, NQ Physio will discuss how physiotherapy can help in the management of a variety of Nerve pain symptoms including common conditions such as Sciatica or peripheral nerve entrapments (aka pinched nerve).

An Overview of Sciatica

In answering the question, “can physio help with nerve pain?”, the first consideration to identify is Sciatica, one of the most common types of Nerve pain. Sciatica is a condition that leads to pain in the back, hip and legs which can be debilitating in its nature for our clients. It is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve which originates at the spine in the low back and travels down the back of the leg.  

Physiotherapy for Sciatica 

Following a diagnosis of Sciatica from your doctor, a referral to physiotherapy is often considered for treatment and management. The aim of physiotherapy for Sciatica is to provide relief from the nerve and associated pain, and to promote healing within the nervous system and surrounding tissue. Consistent and regular treatment will also help prevent recurrences and flare-ups from occurring in the future. Physiotherapists are experts and well equipped to educate and treat clients the rehabilitative methods and management for nerve pain such as Sciatica. In conjunction with client goals, physiotherapy aims to restore movement and function, reduce pain associated with Sciatica and promote tissue healing. Physiotherapy treatment for Sciatica often includes strengthening and stretching exercises, in combination with soft tissue techniques such as massage, mobilisation and/or Dry Needling.

An Overview of peripheral nerve entrapments

Another important condition to consider is peripheral nerve entrapments.  A common example of this is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.  Again, physio is able to assist in the treatment and management of this type of nerve pain. This results from excessive pressure being applied by the tissues that surround the nerves as they run through the body, such as tendons, bones, muscles, or cartilage. Excessive or prolonged pressure on the tissue surrounding the nerve can cause a decrease in nerve function, leading to weakness, numbness, pain or tingling. Whilst most peripheral nerve injuries will resolve themselves, ongoing or persistent nerve pain requires review and treatment from a medical professional, such as a physiotherapist.

Physiotherapy for peripheral nerve entrapments

Physiotherapy for peripheral nerve pain may vary depending on the area affected. A comprehensive physiotherapy assessment will be performed on your initial visit to determine the location of the nerve compression. Treatment techniques involved in therapy include soft tissue techniques such as massage or dry needling, joint mobilisation and manipulation, Exercise and Education. Let’s look at some of these methods in more detail.

  1. Soft Tissue Techniques (Massage or Dry Needling)
    Both Massage and Dry needling target the tendons and muscles surrounding the affected area. These muscles may have become tight and tender due to changes in posture or immobile resulting from pain. These soft tissue techniques aim to decrease the tension within the tissue to regain function and decrease associated pain.
  2. Joint Mobilisation & Manipulation
    Joint mobilisation and manipulation are common physiotherapy techniques that aim to relieve stiffness and pain within the joint. Often associated with nerve pain, joints can become stiff or inflamed due to the compression of the nerve root as it exits the spinal column. Joint mobilisation and manipulation are gentle methods that can help improve stiffness and pain in the joint to increase function and mobility in a short timeframe.
  3. Exercise for Nerve Pain
    Exercise is an important aspect of physiotherapy treatment for nerve related pain. Physiotherapists will help tailor an exercise program that best suits your goals and level of physical activity. Exercise has shown to decrease inflammation and regain strength and function that may have been lost due to nerve pain. Furthermore, it aims to promote healing in the tissue and prevent future occurrence. 
  4. Education surrounding Nerve Pain
    Physiotherapists have extensive knowledge and training for the assessment and treatment of nerve pain. At NQ Physio Solutions we provide patients with the knowledge they need to help better understand their condition and cause of nerve pain, and the benefits of assessments and treatments used throughout the session.    

Managing Persistent Pain with NQ Physio Solutions

“Can physio help with nerve pain?” Yes and we are here to help. At NQ Physio Solutions, our physiotherapists will start with a comprehensive assessment of your current condition and body function. Following, with a better understanding of your individual experience with persistent pain, we focus on an educational approach to sustainably manage flare-ups and management of your pain. To track progress, we set goals for you to achieve throughout the treatment program. As described above a combination of manual therapy and movement exercises will be incorporated in treatment to help you achieve your individual goals.

If you’d like to hear more information or have more questions about nerve pain, don’t hesitate to get in touch and book an appointment with the NQ Physio team.

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