Nerve pain (Neuralgia) is pain that is caused by damage or disease that affects the power cables of the body. These power cables control all your bodies movement and communication. These pains comes from problems with signals from these power cables.
Nerve pain feels very different to other types of pain and it is also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia. Abnormal sensations like burning, pins & needles and numbness are due to nerve injury.
Each person’s case is unique and we want to address your specific needs. If you would like us to investigate or provide some insight, we invite you to contact us by clicking the link below.
What Causes Nerve Pain?
Neuropathic pain is caused by a problem with your nerves(power cables) themselves, which sends pain messages to the brain. These impulses can vary from numbness (no impulse) or severe burning pain (very active impulses) that even the weight of linen on your foot will be too painful.
Most commonly occurs in the lower back, when nerves that run out from the spine.
The friction between the nerve, muscle, joint and ligament irritates the power cables and cause them to swell. This causes a sharp sudden burning or electrical shock type pain to run down the leg. The nerve is irritated at the point of irritation, but you feel pain all the way down the nerve.
One of the first signs of irritation is that the discomfort progresses to pain, leading to Pins & Needles as it gets worse. Initially the nerve pain only comes on occasionally and relieves after a few minutes. This type of sudden sharp pain comes & goes away, only only to be brought on when moving into a specific movement or position.
Generally it starts at the lower back and progressively moves downwards towards your butt and even into your toes. You will notice that it develops slowly and starts off being worse at night or early in the morning.
Nerve Compression (Pinched nerve)
This is the result of a nerve irritation that gets worse. During this phase the nerves that supply the power cables to the legs can become totally compressed and cause constant burning or sharp pains. Constant irritation on the tissue surrounding the nerve can leave you with pain that does not ease, no matter what you do.
When the nerve is totally compressed, it may cut off the signal from your leg to your brain ( Your toes sends the message, but it gets cut off at the point of compression). This will feel more like constant burning or sharp shooting pain. The pain will progress from pins & needles to numbness and eventually you won’t be able to control the movements in your hip, thigh, knee or foot. This pain tends to hang around a lot longer and stays for hours until (if) the compression is relieved.
The more the nerve compression, the more distorted the feeling will be, until the nerve is totally compressed and no message can go to the brain, then your skin goes numb. If the compression on the nerve is not relieved, there could be permanent damage to the nerves.
The nerve compression prevents feedback signals to your brain which causes clumsiness and weakness, which will make you feel like you have lost power. Muscle weakness is a very clear sign of nerve compression.
Numbness, tingling, weakness and inability to control your muscles are symptoms of nerve injury or disease. Injury to a nerve happens from a sudden event and symptoms start after the incident. Sometimes symptoms may develop over time (more than 1 month).
These could be due to nerve diseases, like a virus attacking the protective covering of the nerves(power cables) breaking down the nerve and cause the nerve to send abnormal pain impulses to the brain. Like being rubbed on the skin feels like a burning coal.
Other nerve related sensations include, unable to distinguish between different temperatures and ‘dead’ feeling on the skin.
Symptoms of nerve pain
- Burning pain
- Pins & Needles
- Sharp stabbing, shooting pain
- Electrical shock pain
- Unable to control movement
- Dead feeling over skin
- Unable to do movements
- Dead feeling over skin
- Unable to control bladder
- Pain when sitting on the toilet and bearing down
- Fainting/ Dizziness
- Skin colour changes
- Change in consciousness, or mental status
Test for nerve damage
If you suffer from any of these you should give us a call:
- Difficult to distinguish between Light touch (cotton wool stroked over the skin) and deep touch (compressing the skin in the area)
- Struggle to distinguish between Sharp touch (skin pierced with a toothpick) Blunt (press with the back of a pencil)
- Temperature: Difficult to distinguish between hot and cold temperatures.
- Pins & needles when touching something
- Numbness (“Dead” feeling over skin)
Diagnosis of nerve injury
This is a test where needles are inserted into the muscles that the nerve supplies. It measures the electrical activity produced by these muscles. The electrical activity of the nerve will be tested when you contract and relax your muscles. This test can determine if there is any nerve damage.
This test is performed by a Neurologist and is often referred to as ‘Nerve conduction studies’. It examines both the sensory (feeling) and the motor (ability to contract or relax muscles) function of the nerve. This test is able to show the weakening of the impulse traveling through the nerve. It is considered abnormal when the impulse travels slower, and weakens between 2 points (conduction velocity).
An ultrasound can visualize the structures and the space around the nerve as well as swelling of the tendons, muscles, joints etc. We will compare the uninjured side to the painful side.
Why is your nerve pain lasting longer than expected?
You believed the pain would go away over time (on its own) but it didn’t
You went to the Doctor who told you to rest and take painkillers. The painkillers helped to relieve the immediate pain. As soon as the painkillers wore off, the pain returned
A family member (or friend) told you that “Everybody experiences pain as they grow older,” and that you should just accepted it
In the past you went to other Healthcare Professionals (or a Physiotherapist) but nothing they said or did seemed to help
YouTube exercises and home remedies didn’t help relieve the pain, or in some cases made the pain ten times worse
You thought it would be a good idea to rest because you were in pain. However, afterwards you felt even more stiff and in more intense pain than before
You went for massages, hoping they would relieve the pain. The massages felt pleasant and relaxing, but didn’t do anything to fix your pain in the long term
Experiencing these situations or applying similar advice and not getting results is a good thing. Why? Because these experiences help you know what doesn’t work for you. It means that you are closer to finding out what does work for you!
We invite you to book an appointment with a Physiotherapist (at our Pretoria practice). During an appointment we assess your symptoms, diagnose the cause, educate you about what is happening in your body and then start treatment. See our FAQ for more in depth information about what to expect from a physiotherapy session.
Alternatively, click the link below to book a FREE phone call. The phone call is complimentary and there is no obligation to book any appointments with us after the call is over. This is an opportunity to get an expert’s advice about your situation. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision about what to do next concerning your nerve pain.
Choose a Cilliers & Swart Physiotherapist to aid you in getting rid of your pain
What can we do for you?
We quickly put an end to pain and stiffness – often within a couple of sessions
We help you find out what is going on in your body and help you understand the root cause (and symptoms) of your pain
Pain can rob you of sleep or rest. We make it easier for you to return to your normal sleeping patterns and positions so that your energy and potential for recovery increases
Cilliers & Swart Physiotherapists closely manage and treat your problem. We also provide you with related exercises to speed up your recovery
Using painkillers in the long-term can be harmful to your health. We help you lower or completely stop your need for painkillers to manage pain
Our physiotherapists safeguard you against dangerous and costly surgeries and painful injections
We reduce visits to specialists or doctors who only order you to take more pills
Pain can limit the activities you enjoy with your family and friends. Our experts help you get back to spending quality time on the activities you (and your loved ones) like
We can get you to sit comfortably and walk longer than 15 minutes, in both cases without feeling that you are weak, in pain or about to collapse
In short, we help you get back to living life free from pain. For information about costs and availability, click the button below:
4 steps to get rid of pain quickly.
Decide to get help.
Many people put off going for treatment, that by the time they receive treatment the injury has worsened over time or caused other problems. Don’t think that pain will ‘just go away with time’. It might sound brave to ‘put up with pain’ over an extended period of time, but the lack of treatment could end up costing you more in terms of time (for recovery) and resources (money) the longer you wait.
Do the RIGHT exercises.
One of the best things to help ease your pain is an appropriate series of progressed exercises (as advised by your Physiotherapist or Health Professional). The right kind of activities can reduce your pain and increase your range of movement. Above all, exercises ensure that problems don’t come back. However, the wrong kind of exercises have the potential to increase the pain even more.
Avoid sitting still for long periods.
One of the worst things you can do is to ‘rest’ in a sitting position for too long. As a safety measure we recommend specific strengthening exercises for better posture. We can help you get active by combining these exercises with our Physiotherapists’ hands-on treatment.
Get hands-on Physiotherapy treatment.
Physiotherapy is proven to improve the lives of people suffering from nerve related pain. The pain could be affecting your physical performance in a professional or private capacity. It could even threaten your independence or get in the way of spending quality time with family and friends. Physiotherapy can enable you to live the life you desire as quickly as possible.
If you would like to know how the Physiotherapy team at Cilliers & Swart can help you, we invite you to book a FREE, no-obligation, risk-free “Call me back” phone call.
Note: This free call is a service we offer to people who are nervous or unsure. You might not know if Physiotherapy is the right treatment for you. If you are unsure, please fill out our online form. We will contact you to find out what is wrong and how we can help. There is no financial obligation or risk on your part. You have nothing to lose except your pain.