Can Physiotherapy Help With Nerve Pain?

 

Nerve pain can cause all kinds of uncomfortable and painful symptoms. While nerve pain often affects everyone differently, the good news is that there are a range of treatment options available to you, including physiotherapy and exercise physiology. 

What is nerve pain?

Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain or neuralgia, is a type of pain that’s caused by damage or dysfunction of the nervous system. Unlike the typical pain that arises from tissue damage (nociceptive pain), nerve pain results from abnormal signaling or misinterpretation of signals between the nerves and your brain.

While nerve pain can affect any nerve in your body, it often affects certain nerves more than others, like:

  • Phantom Limb Pain
  • Chronic Pain as a result of brain injury.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Functional Neurological Disorder

Nerve pain symptoms

Nerve pain can manifest in various ways and symptoms may differ depending on the underlying cause. Not to mention, nerve pain can range in severity from mild to severe pain. Some people even find their nerve pain worsens at night.

Common symptoms of nerve pain include:

  • Burning sensations,
  • Sharp or stabbing pain,
  • Tingling or pins and needles,
  • Electric shock-like pain,
  • Numbness,
  • Radiating pain,
  • Increased sensitivity,
  • Muscle weakness or atrophy,
  • Disrupted sleep, and
  • Changes in reflexes.

With so many symptoms, it’s no wonder that nerve pain can cause huge disruption to people’s lives. From impacting their ability to exercise to interfering with their sleep, in some instances, nerve pain can end up affecting people’s mental health and general wellbeing. 

Causes of nerve pain

There are various conditions that can lead to nerve pain, including:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: Damage to the peripheral nerves, often caused by conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune conditions, infections, traumatic injuries or certain medications,
  • Sciatica: Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically resulting in pain that radiates down the leg,
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: A condition affecting the trigeminal nerve, leading to intense facial pain,
  • Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by long-term uncontrolled diabetes, and
  • Multiple sclerosis: An autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system, leading to a variety of symptoms, including nerve pain.

Nerve pain treatment

When it comes to nerve pain, there are a number of different treatment options. Generally, the specific treatment depends on the underlying cause and the severity of symptoms. Because everyone experiences nerve pain differently, managing nerve pain can be challenging and often requires a combination of approaches.

Medications

One of the most common ways to treat nerve pain is with medication. While you can pick up some medicine over the counter to help with nerve pain, many people find that they’re not always effective in treating nerve pain.

Instead, many people visit their doctors for prescription medications to treat their nerve pain. Certain antidepressants and antiseizure medications are effective at relieving nerve pain. In some cases, doctors may even prescribe opioids for severe cases of nerve pain, but they’re often used as a last resort. 

Topical medications, like ointments, creams and patches, can be applied directly to the skin to help relieve nerve pain. 

Lifestyle modifications

If your nerve pain is caused by an underlying, like diabetes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding alcohol or tobacco can help reduce the impact of nerve pain. Generally speaking, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can help with pain management while also enhancing your general wellbeing. 

Alternative therapies

There are a number of alternative therapies that can be used to complement more traditional nerve pain treatments. From acupuncture and relaxation massages to biofeedback, these therapies may be able to offer some relief. Some people even like to practice relaxation techniques to help control their pain and aid with sleep. Mindfulness practices are also recommended, as well as pacing exercise and movement with practitioners who have an excellent understanding of chronic pain management like Lucy, Nikki, Richard and Jen in our team.

If you feel like your nerve pain is impacting your mental health, it could also be worth chatting with a psychologist. They might be able to suggest strategies and treatments to help you better cope with the emotional stress that often comes with dealing with nerve pain. 

Physiotherapy for nerve pain

Physiotherapy is another common treatment for managing nerve pain by addressing underlying issues, improving mobility and promoting overall physical well-being. Here are just some of the interventions that physios use to help relieve nerve pain:

  • Strengthening exercises: Strengthening the muscles surrounding affected nerves can provide support and stability, reducing strain on the nerves and promoting better function. Physiotherapists can design targeted exercise programs based on individual needs and the specific nerve affected.


  • Stretching and flexibility: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and prevent the development of muscle imbalances that may contribute to nerve pain. Stretching can also alleviate tension in the muscles surrounding nerves.


  • Soft tissue manipulation: Massage therapy and dry needling can help reduce muscle tension and alleviate pain associated with nerve compression or irritation. Plus, by reducing muscle tension, these therapies can help restore regular muscle function and normal range of movement. 


  • Education and self-management: Physiotherapists educate patients about their condition, teaching them self-management techniques and exercises to perform at home. Empowering individuals to take an active role in their care can contribute to long-term improvement.


Are you looking for a physiotherapist to help relieve and manage nerve pain? Look no further than our expert team of neurological physiotherapists at Community NeuroRehab Service. Our physios offer a range of evidence-based strategies and techniques to help you regain movement and function. Explore our physio service today or get in touch to find out more about how we can help you.