Impingement occurs when pressure is applied to a nerve either by a bone, cartilage, a tight muscle or an outside force. It can cause damage to the myelin sheath which insulates the nerve and to the nerve itself in significant cases. Nerves typically do not begin to function normally immediately after the compressive force is removed. Damaged nerves take weeks or months to return to normal. In some cases normal function may not return at all.
Pinched nerves can occur at the spine due to herniated discs, bulging discs or degenerative disc disease. The initial symptoms of a pinched nerve may be tingling, numbness, burning sensation or shooting pains down the buttocks and legs or in the neck, shoulders, arms and fingers.
Impingement can also occur elsewhere in the body, referred to most commonly as a peripheral nerve impingement. Peripheral nerve impingement occurs when soft tissue structures are irritated following a trauma, repetitive injury or sustained faulty posturing. Adhesions or scar tissue is formed with resulting pain, numbness and tingling of the affected area.
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Numbness and tingling in the thumb, forefinger and middle finger and sometimes in the hand generally.
- Weakness in some of the muscles associated with the thumb and sometimes in the hand generally.
- Clumsiness with the hand and difficulty with functional tasks, i.e. grasping, lifting.
Symptoms of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome:
- Tingling, numbness, burning or shooting pain into the inside of the ankle or into the bottom of the foot.
Contributing factors in the development of thoracic outlet syndrome include the presence of a cervical rib, an abnormal first rib, postural deviations or changes, body composition, degenerative disorders and hypertrophy, spasms or length tension issues of the anterior neck and/or shoulder muscles.
Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
- Pain can be variable depending on the structures involved. Most commonly, pain occurs in the shoulder and arm; however, pain patterns can also occur in the neck and chest.
- Muscle atrophy, weakness and numbness can occur over time due to prolonged compression of the nerves.
- Poor circulation resulting in a “cold arm” can occur due to restricted blood flow to the arm.