“Trapped Nerve” is a diagnosis that is commonly and often incorrectly given. However, when nerves are trapped and compressed they do undergo various changes. Initially, they do not work as well and do not transmit their impulses properly, resulting in numbness or weakness of the area they supply. Changes also occur in the structure of the nerves, with production of abnormal and excitable receptors and ion channels. Stimulation of these can result in abnormal firing of the nerves which is transmitted back to the brain and felt as shooting or tingling pains in the distribution of the nerve (“referred pain”).
These changes can happen in various places, notably as the nerves emerge from the spine (often due a condition called “cervical spondylosis”), in the wrist (giving rise to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), or in the abdominal wall as the nerves penetrate through the sheath around the Rectus (“six-pack”) muscles. Other types of nerve entrapment pain include some types of sciatica and back pain, meralgia paraesthetica giving pain in the side of the thigh due to compression of the lateral cutaneous nerve, pudendal neuralgia giving pain in the pelvic area, and others.
Various interventional treatments can be tried for pains of this type, including drugs such as simple analgesics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, injections of locally-acting local anaesthetics and steroids and TENS .
An article on Abdominal Cutaneous Nerve Entrapment which, although it is written for doctors, many of our patients find useful is at this site.
There is a useful patient information page on carpal tunnel syndrome at the American College of Rheumatologists site
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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
Page updated 15/02/2016