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What Is Nerve Entrapment?

Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience numbness or tingling sensation in the fingers.
Repetitive strain can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, a type of nerve entrapment.
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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2014
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Nerve entrapment happens when a nerve becomes trapped due to a problem in the body. This can be caused by a large number of things including repetitive strain, fractures, diabetes, tumors and infections. Common nerves that can suffer from nerve entrapment include the ulnar and pudendal nerves. Symptoms of a trapped nerve include pain in the region, strange sensations on the skin above the nerve, weakness of surrounding muscles and numbness. The symptoms will depend on the type of nerve involved and the severity of the condition.

The brain sends signals to the muscles via nerves, and in some cases these nerves can become compressed due to a variety of problems. This prevents the nerve from being supplied with blood and affects how it functions. A consequence is that certain muscles may not be receiving the correct signals from the nervous system.

There are many potential causes of nerve entrapment. For example, if a nerve is subjected to a repeated force over a long period of time, then this can cause the problem. Common examples include sitting at a computer with the wrong posture such as dangling an arm over a chair. Aside from repetitive strain injuries, nerve entrapment can be caused by an internal structure such as a tumor or the swelling of tissue such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Symptoms of nerve entrapment can vary widely depending on the nerve involved, where the entrapment is taking place and how severe the condition is. Typically, most people will start by feeling a small amount of pain or tingling in the area of the nerve. This will then progress to numbness in the area. If a compressed nerve isn’t treated for a long period of time then this may eventually need to muscle weakness.

Treatment for an entrapped nerve also depends on the exact condition. For example, if a person is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome because of repeated use of a computer, then resting as well as using ergonomic devices may help the problem. If the condition is being caused by weight gain then an exercise routine to lose weight will need to be followed. There are some types of nerve entrapment syndromes that require surgery in the most severe cases.

Some common examples of nerve entrapment include carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the hand; cubital tunnel syndrome, which affects the elbow; and pronator teres syndrome, which also affects the elbow. Aside from computer related problems these injuries are also commonly caused by sports. If the problem isn’t treated then it will usually get worse over time.

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