Peripheral Nerve Entrapments of the Arm
One very common injury seen in our St George chiropractic office is peripheral nerve entrapment syndrome. Often, the nerve entrapment begins as a low grade injury. But if left uncorrected, the injury can turn permanent.
Symptoms of nerve entrapment include pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of function. Most nerve entrapment syndromes have predictable pain patterns. Those patterns help your doctor more accurately diagnose your particular variety of nerve entrapment.
Many people have heard of the famous nerve entrapment condition Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It is not the most common nerve entrapment, but it is the one that gets the most press and the most surgery. One reason why, is because it is far too over-diagnosed. It seems that doctors who do not understand the intricacies of specific nerve entrapments will render a diagnosis of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome to any nerve entrapment from the elbow down through the hand. This leads to over-treatment and unnecessary surgeries. There are four different nerve entrapment syndromes that mimic carpal tunnel. Specially trained chiropractors and medical doctors are able to differentiate the various types and provide an appropriate treatment plan.
Some common median nerve entrapment conditions include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: involving the median nerve at the wrist. The nerve can be irritated and choked by the ligaments and bones of the wrist.
- Pronator Teres Entrapment Syndrome: involves the median nerve at the elbow. The nerve is being irritated by a muscle in the forearm. The symptom set can be similar to carpal tunnel and is often mis-diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Anterior Interosseous Syndrome: involves the median nerve, anterior interosseous branch, and occurs in the forearm near the elbow. The compression can be caused by a membrane that holds the two bones of the forearm together.
- Supraconylar Process Syndrome, aka Struther’s Ligament Syndrome: involves the median nerve and the entrapment occurs in the upper arm bone, near the elbow. Inflammation on the ligament can choke the median nerve in the upper arm.
These four conditions all involve the median nerve. They each create pain and irritation along the distribution of the nerve, even down into the hand and thumb.
In the arm, we also have the ulnar nerve and radial nerve. Each has a series of entrapment syndromes. Some have some interesting names (like Guyon Syndrome, Wartenburg Syndrome, and Cubital Tunnel Syndrome).
The moral of the story is this: just because you have nerve pain in the hand or wrist, does not necessarily mean that you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You need to be evaluated by a chiropractor or medical doctor who has specific extra training in nerve compression syndromes. Dr. Andrew White, the chiropractic physician at Innova Pain Clinic, is one such physician. He has specific training in diagnosis and treatment of peripheral nerve compression syndromes.