Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Walking on pins and needles?

Nerves that get stuck and irritated by swollen muscles or ligaments can be a torment to athletes.  The ultimate goal for any athlete experiencing the pain of a pinched nerve is to alleviate any pain or discomfort you are feeling, all while working within your boundaries and keeping up a comfortable range of motion.  As an athlete it's important to know what to look for so you'll have a better chance of getting the proper treatment.

The symptoms of a pinched nerve are more intense than a mild soreness and athletes experiencing the pain of a pinched nerve will often complain that the area has:
  • numbness
  • tenderness to the touch
  • pins and needles
  • burning
  • tingling
  • an aching pain that won't go away
Common nerve injuries for athletes are Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Morton's Neuroma, and Piriformis Syndrome.  Depending on the severity, a pinched nerve can be treated a number of ways, such as supportive braces, anti-inflammatory drugs, injection therapy, massage, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy and sometimes surgery.

Once diagnosed, a good practice along with the various treatments above, is to keep moving but at a minimal or modified level.  As soon as pain will allow, it is recommended that rehabilitation starts as soon as possible.  Take the time to review your exercise regimen, revise your fitness goals to accommodate your recovery and make sure you give yourself extra time for warm ups.  Focus on building up and stretching out core muscles like the chest, back, legs and abdominals. 

Most people that have nerve injuries will improve in time with rest, heat, limited activity and anti-inflammatory drugs.  The problem can reoccur but can be avoided if you apply the treatment methods mentioned above.  It's important to keep in mind that with all pain that lasts between 7-10 days and doesn't respond to self care measures, it's a good idea to consult a doctor or physiotherapist about possible treatments.

References from the SIRC Collection: 

1. Alshami A, Babri A, Souvlis T, Coppieters M. Strain in the Tibial and Plantar Nerves With Foot and Ankle Movements and the Influence of Adjacent Joint Positions. Journal Of Applied Biomechanics. November 2008;24(4):368-376.
2. Beare S. Pain in the Butt! Piriformis Syndrome. Sportsaider. 2004;20(4):9
3. Filley A. Piriformis syndrome: don't let it become a pain in the backside!. Peak Performance. June 15, 2009;(277):1-4.
4. Hariri S, McAdams T. Nerve Injuries About the Elbow. Clinics In Sports Medicine. October 2010;29(4):655-675.
5. Kinoshita M, Okuda r, Yasuda T, Abe M. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome in Athletes. American Journal Of Sports Medicine. August 2006;34(8):1307-1312.
6. LeRoux M. FEELING THE PINCH. American Fitness. November 2006;24(6):32-33.

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