Knowledge Tip | Neurodynamics

The nervous system is essentially a continuous structure that begins with the brain and runs throughout the entire body down to the fingertips and toes.

Ideally, this system slides and moves without disruption in the body as we move. For example, as our elbows bend, our nerves also bend, stretch, and adapt to the shape and direction that our joints and muscles are moving. However, it is not uncommon for nerves to be compressed somewhere along its pathway. Nerve compression can be secondary to several mechanisms, such as insufficient space between spinal vertebrae and excessive muscle contraction. The result of nerve compression includes symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, and paresthesias. Additionally, nerve compression leads to decreased range of motion secondary to the nerve’s inability to slide and move with the body.

Nerve entrapment/compression is a common result of poor ergonomics and posture. Examples of ergonomic-related nerve compression disorders include: carpal tunnel and cervical radiculopathy.

When there is repeated compression and undue forces acting on a particular nerve it can change for the worse! Treatment should include altering the forces acting on the arm, leg or spine by ergonomic re-positioning, learning proper spinal posture and specific exercises and stretches that promote increased circulation and restored neural impulses down the affected nerve. This is rather complex for this discussion but should be evaluated by a physician or physical therapist.

Acute treatment for upper extremity paresthesia should include ice, rest periods from a sustained position, active and passive motion of the nerve from the spine/neck, where it exits, to the shoulder, past the elbow, and to the wrist and hand. Subtle movements and rotations of these different areas glide the nerve providing a mild stretch and restoring normal circulation and oxygenation to the nerve. Restoring normal neurodynamics is vital for the health of our peripheral nervous system and significantly reduces pain.

At Paulseth & Associates Physical Therapy our certified staff is well versed in treating the symptoms of cervical radiculopathy, carpal tunnel and neurodynamic related disorders. Use our contact form or call 310-286-0447 schedule an evaluation.

About The Author | Stephen Paulseth, MS PT SCS is Board Certified as a Sports Clinical Specialist. Stephen graduated with a Masters degree from the University of Southern California Physical Therapy program in 1982 and recently completed the post professional DPT program. He has been on faculty at Mount St. Mary’s graduate Physical Therapy program teaching biomechanics, anatomy and acting as a research advisor. Stephen works with the US Olympic Committee, APTA as President of the Foot and Ankle Special Interest Group of the American Physical Therapy Association, Federation Internationale de Volleyball, LA Leggers and has served as head trainer to numerous Los Angeles area high schools. He served as director of Century City Hospital Rehabilitation Services and is experienced in all orthopedic and sports patients. Stephen also participated as a US Medical Delegate for the 2004 Olympics Games in Athens, Greece. Stephen has also consulted on the development of KorFlex(tm) brand physical therapy systems. Stephen has a special interest in foot and ankle injuries and holds a US patent (Patent # 5069202) on a specialized therapeutic ankle brace and has written articles for many physical therapy, and sports research journals and fitness publications.