What Are Nerve Entrapment Syndromes?
The brain and spinal cord receive and send information through muscles and sensory receptors, and the information sent to organs is transmitted through nerves. These nerves travel up and down the lower extremities of the body and traverse the various joints along their path. Unfortunately, these nerves can become entrapped or compressed at various regions of the extremities, especially in the elbows and knees. When this nerve compression and entrapment occurs, it is called nerve entrapment syndrome. There are three main nerves in the arm that are responsible for carrying messages between the brain and hand. These three nerves, the median nerve, the radial nerve, and the ulnar nerve, suffer different nerve entrapment syndromes. The median nerve suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, the radial nerve suffers from radial tunnel syndrome, and the ulnar nerve suffers from cubital tunnel syndrome.
What Causes Nerve Entrapment Syndromes?
With carpal tunnel syndrome, it is caused by the surrounding tissues of the flexor tendons in the wrist swelling and putting pressure on the median nerve. Typically, people engaged in repetitive motions throughout their day experience this syndrome. People who use computers for many hours of the day, musicians, assembly line workers, and carpenters are all examples of those commonly diagnosed.
Radial tunnel syndrome occurs when there is damage to the radial nerve. The radial nerve travels down the arm and controls movement of the tricep muscle at the back of the upper arm, and also the movement of the wrist.
When cubital tunnel syndrome occurs, the surrounding tissue is compressing the ulnar nerve in the arm. This compression can lead to serious dysfunction in your arm because the ulnar nerve is one of the major nerves. This nerve travels from the neck down to the hand and can be compressed in several places along the way, causing numbness in the elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers, depending on where it occurs. The most common place where the ulnar nerve gets compressed is behind the elbow, and when this occurs it is called the “cubital tunnel syndrome.”
Symptoms of Nerve Entrapment Syndromes
Symptoms of nerve entrapment syndromes are different depending on which nerve is affected, but generally include tingling, pain, numbness, and muscle weakness. Typically, the symptoms only occur in one particular part of the body, depending on which nerve is affected.
Nerve Entrapment Syndromes Treatment
A conservative measure should be taken first in most cases of nerve entrapment syndromes. Conditioning exercises and injections around the nerve may provide long-term relief.
For those experiencing long-standing symptoms or weakness, it may be recommended to advance with surgery. The main reason to receive surgery for nerve entrapment syndrome is to decompress nerves in zones of compression.