Nerve Pain Treatment: Is Chiropractic Care An Effective Management Option?
Our nervous system controls, facilitates and regulates every action and process in our body. Processes like maintaining our body temperature, activating sweat glands, enabling muscle contraction and allowing our heart to beat and contract continuously. Our nervous systems consist of three different types of nerves:
Autonomic – regulate involuntary and voluntary actions heart beat, digestion and respiration
Motor – control muscles via input from the brain, down the spinal cord to specific muscles
Sensory – facilitate touch and sensation of the skin
But when there are problems with our nervous system, like causing nerve pain or neuropathy – the effects can be devastating and seriously alter our ability to function normally. Nerve pain and neuropathy can create a wide variety of symptoms depending upon the location of damage (brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves) and type of nerves involved.
COMMON NERVE PAIN SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Muscle weakness
- Burning pain
- Tingling & numbness
- Muscle twitching
- Loss of muscle size (atrophy)
- Sharp, shooting aching pain
- Electric shock pain
- Total muscle paralysis
- Partial or complete reflex loss
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF NEUROPATHY
While there is a long list of nerve pain causes, the most that we regularly encounter in clinical practice include arthritis, disc herniation/bulge, inflammation, nutritional deficiency or toxicity, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, spinal misalignment, diabetes, trigeminal neuralgia, multiple sclerosis, shingles, guillain barre syndrome, physical trauma, myasthenia gravis, motor neuron disease, lupus, infection, spinal fracture and tumor growth.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR NERVE PAIN
Depending on the individual circumstances, Chiropractic management may be beneficial. Chiropractic is a holistic non-invasive manual therapy that focuses on improving ones total health and wellbeing by altering the function of their nervous system. Chiropractic achieves this via numerous avenues, most commonly improving posture, altering spinal alignment and reducing nervous system interference.
Spinal manipulation is the most commonly used therapeutic tool for Chiropractors and is commonly referred to as an ‘adjustment.’ This technique results in improved joint alignment, flexibility, muscle relaxation, reduce pressure on the nerve(s) and reduce pain amongst other things.
Joint mobilisation (gentle stretching) is a more gentle therapy that is often used during acute phases of where or for those who dislike manual adjusting
Flexion-Distraction / Traction Therapy (stretching of the thoracic and lumbar spine) is a particularly effective technique for lumbar disc problems, Scoliosis or as another form of joint mobilisation that involves gently stretching joints of the spine
Activator Technique (hand held instruments) used to facilitate enhanced joint movement and is suitable for all individuals and different level of severity
SOT pelvic blocking (mobilisation of pelvic joints) to facilitate the joint movement in the pelvis, and sacrum joints
Gentle remedial massage techniques are fantastic for relieving muscle tightness and fascial spasm resulting from the nerve pain and antalgia. Such techniques also aid in improving flexibility, general posture and movement and overall pain levels
Common prescription medications for neuropathic pain include anticonvulsants, anti-depressants, opiods (pain killers) and topical agents. Typical side effects of such approaches include nausea, drowsiness, vertigo and dizziness. Be sure to consult your doctor regarding prescription medication that is suitable for your individual situation.
In rare circumstances, surgery may be warranted for individuals in extremely severe cases. Approaches may include nerve blocking and nerve severing.
RESEARCH ON NERVE PAIN AND CHIROPRACTIC?
Clinically significant improvements were noted in pain and overall disability following Chiropractic management in individuals suffering symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy highlighting the viable option of using it as a nerve pain treatment. Murphy, D.R., Hurwitz, EL., McGovern, E.E (2009). A nonsurgical approach to the management of patients with lumbar radiculopathy secondary to to herniated disc: A prospective observational cohort study with follow up. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics, 32(9); 723 – 733
Conservative Chiropractic management produced favourable outcomes for majority of patients suffering radiculopathy in a hospital setting. Christense, K. et al (2008). Chiropractic outcomes managing radiculopathy in a hospital setting : A retrospective review of 162 patients. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 7(3); 115 – 125