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What is Compression Neuropathy?

By Elva K.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Compression neuropathy, which is also referred to as entrapment neuropathy, often impacts older people. This condition happens when spinal nerves become compressed, trapped, and swollen. The result is that there could be temporarily or permanently destroyed nerves.

Compressive neuropathy symptomology includes tingling, numbness, pain, or muscle weakness. The appearance of the symptoms depends on which particular nerve is impacted. Pain is sharp and stabbing, often electrical in nature or with a feeling of pins or needles in the buttocks, legs, feet, ankle, or really anywhere in the body. As a general rule, positive sensory symptomology such as tingling, numbness, or reduced sensation occurs the earliest while weak muscles usually occur later.

Causes of this condition could vary. For instance, herniated, slipped, bulging, or ruptured discs could cause it. The growth of bone spurs could be a factor. Median nerve compression in the carpal tunnel, or the spine nerve root, or the tibial posterior nerve in the tarsal tunnel could be causes as well.

Outside forces sometimes cause nerve compression problems. For example, in cases where crutches are incorrectly fitted, they could cause radial nerve injury in the axillary region. Specifically, prolonged and excessive pressure under the axilla emanating from crutches will tend to cause the radial nerve to be compressed.

A nerve conduction study helps in the diagnosis or confirmation of the presence of compression neuropathy. Scans usually are not necessary, however, they can help if tumors or lesions are suspected. Sometimes diagnostic confusion can occur because nerve injury could cause symptoms similar to compression neuropathy. Adding to the difficulties is if a patient does not recall being injured and if there is a lack of physical outward signs of injury. Thus, doctors must be extra cautious in their examination and diagnostic process.

If there are underlying medical conditions causing compression neuropathy, physicians usually direct treatment there first. For instance, if a patient has gained a lot of weight recently, physicians will typically suggest that the patient lose weight. If the patient has compression neuropathy as a result of pregnancy weight gain, the problem often disappears after the pregnancy. Granted, some cases of compression neuropathy tend to require surgery. For instance, compression neuropathy such as carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel do require surgery; however, surgery may not always relieve all negative symptoms of compression neuropathy.

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Discussion Comments

By anon154210 — On Feb 20, 2011

I've recently undergone a surgery for repair of my median nerve. after what time after the surgery should i expect my sensation back? I'm 36 years old.

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