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A "trapped nerve" is often a term used to describe certain neck and back conditions that do not involve the nerve at all.
Usually if you have a trapped nerve in the neck or back you will experience pain in the associated limb, such as the arm or leg. This pain can often be worse than the pain in the neck or back and can be accompanied by pins and needles and numbness.
If you are not experiencing this type of pain please see our Neck & Head or Low Back Pain pages. If you are in doubt then please call the clinic and speak to one of our osteopaths, who will be happy to speak to you on the phone.
Nerves can be thought of as flexible wires that convey messages through the body. There are motor nerves that take nerve impulses to the muscles and glands. Sensory nerves take signals from sensory nerve endings in the eyes, ears, nose, skin, muscles and joints. Nerves called inter-neurones lie in the brain and spinal cord, (together called the central nervous system) It is in the central nervous system that the incoming information from the sense organs is filtered and interpreted. From the central nervous system messages are sent out (consciously and unconsciously) to run our bodies and co-ordinate our actions.
The spinal cord runs from the base of the skull down the spinal canal inside the spine. There are gaps on each side between the bones of the spine where the spinal nerves emerge. The spinal nerves are bundles of motor and sensory nerve cells that go to the limbs and chest and abdominal wall. Nerves also emerge from the base of the skull (cranial nerves) to get to the ears, eyes, tongue, nose and muscles of the head.
The nerves can be injured within the spinal canal, as they exit it, or as they run down the arms and legs.
There are a number of commonly used terms for different sorts of nerve problem. Neuralgia means nerve pain, neuritis means nerve inflammation, neurogenic means coming from the nerve and neuropathic means concerning nerve disorders.
The status of the nervous system can be assessed clinically by a neurological examination. Osteopaths will examine the spinal and cranial nerves system as part of their examination of the patient, when indicated.
Osteopaths deal with nerve conditions (and many other conditions) where peripheral nerves have become physically compressed, irritated or stretched, such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome or brachial neuralgia.
It is unlikely an osteopath will be able to help with some other conditions that can affect nerves, such as MS, Parkinsons disease, myasthenia gravis, syringomyelia, or motor neurone diseases other than to offer symptomatic relief.