There are various different types of entrapment neuropathy, each one affecting a different peripheral nerve. Trapped nerves develop where nerve fibers pass through tunnel-like structures in the body, which are formed by bone, ligament, and muscle.
Dr. Rina Caprarella clarifies, “Carpal tunnel syndrome, the most common entrapment neuropathy, manifests in the wrist where the median nerve passes through the carpal tunnel. And cubital tunnel syndrome, the second most common type, occurs when the ulnar nerve is compressed on the inside of the elbow.”
Some other less common types of entrapment neuropathy include suprascapular nerve compression in the shoulder, Guyon’s canal syndrome in the hand, and meralgia paresthetica, which affects the lateral cutaneous nerve cluster in the outer thigh.
Causes of Entrapment Neuropathies
Recurring injuries, like sprains, can reduce the blood flow to certain nerves and contribute to nerve entrapment. Repetitive damage can also cause chronic inflammation in structures nearby to affected nerves, as well as damage to the myelin sheath, which is an insulative covering that protects nerves.
“Some medical conditions also contribute to nerve entrapment,” Dr. Rina Caprarella explains. “These include rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, diabetes, hypertension, menopause, pregnancy, obesity, and thyroid dysfunction.”
Entrapment Neuropathy Treatment Options
There are various treatment options for entrapment neuropathy. The first-line protocol is to avoid motions that exacerbate symptoms. You should also implement ergonomic strategies at home and work to improve symptomology.
In some cases of nerve compression syndrome, a doctor or physical therapist may recommend a splint or a brace to help you avoid putting pressure on the nerve.
Also, working with a physical therapist can help improve strength, range of motion, and flexibility, all of which can lessen long-term symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medicines, corticosteroids, and prosthetic devices can also be beneficial. And in severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
“There are various home remedies to try, including ice packs, heating pads, topical creams, elevating the affected area, and gently stretching the area to increase range of motion,” Dr. Rina Caprarella asserts. “Making small lifestyle changes helps many patients to experience a lot less pain and numbness.”