Entrapment neuropathy is a medical condition in which the affected nerve gets trapped by direct pressure. This may also refer to nerve root compression such as by a herniated disc in the spine.
Typical symptoms include muscle weakness, pain, numbness and tingling. The symptoms affect just one particular part of the body depending on the nerve that is affected.
Common location for entrapment neuropathy to occur is the joints. The pressure on the nerve can be very painful and can result in damage to the nerve and eventually muscle weakness left untreated.
Other conditions such as bone spurs, joint swelling, cysts and trauma also can result in nerve entrapment. Entrapment Neuropathy is also known as Nerve Compression Syndrome or Compression Neuropathy.
Types of Entrapment Neuropathy
There are different forms of compression neuropathies depending on the nerve that is affected, but the most common forms are carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome, which affect the nerves in the wrist and elbow.
When a nerve is compressed, symptoms are often felt away from the actual site of the entrapment. For instance, entrapment neuropathy in the hip or thigh area can result in pain in the legs and feet as the nerves in these areas carry signals to the rest of the leg.
Few of the common forms of Entrapment Neuropathies are mentioned below.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: An individual is said to have carpal tunnel syndrome if that individual's median nerve, a major nerve in the upper extremity that travels down the arm and enters the hand through the carpal tunnel located in central part of the wrist, gets compressed in carpal tunnel causing irritation of the nerve. Typically, this disease affects the thumb, index, and middle finger.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome: An individual is said to have cubital tunnel syndrome if that individual's ulnar nerve, a major nerve in upper extremity gets compressed. Ulnar nerve supplies movement directions to the forearm muscles and sensory information from the hand. In case of cubital nerve syndrome, the ulnar nerve gets compressed near the elbow causing wrist and hand weakness, numbness as well as pain. The main fingers involved are little and ring fingers.
Peroneal Neuropathy: Peroneal neuropathy relates to entrapment of the peroneal nerve, most commonly at the knee, however, the entrapment can occur at the hip and ankle as well. This commonly leads to weakness of the ankle dorsiflexors and evertors.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Tarsal tunnel syndrome relates to tibial nerve dysfunction where the tibial nerve gets trapped when it passes through a narrow structure called the tarsal tunnel. This leads to altered sensation in the foot and toes such as numbness, tingling and burning sensation and weakness in the foot muscles.
Handlebar Palsy: This disease is generally experienced by long-distance cyclists. In handlebar palsy, the ulnar nerve in the wrist gets compressed due to long periods of direct pressure on the nerve when the weight of the upper body is resting on the handlebars, thus the term handlebar palsy.
Signs & Symptoms of Entrapment Neuropathy
The common signs & symptoms of Entrapment Neuropathy are:
- Tingling sensation
- Burning sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle wasting
- Impaired movement of affected joints or body part
Treatment for Entrapment Neuropathy
As a rule, the underlying medical condition that is the cause of entrapment neuropathy needs to be treated first. There may be instances where the patient may have gained weight. The first treatment for such patients will be to lose the excess weight.
If there is no underlying medical condition, then in most of the cases surgery is the next option though there are rare chances that surgery may not relieve all the symptoms in chronic cases.
Diagnosis of Entrapment Neuropathy or Nerve Compression Syndrome
Entrapment neuropathy may be easily diagnosed in cases of external injuries but diagnosing entrapment neuropathy may be tough at times in case of lack of external injury and the patient may have no clue as to the reason behind the pain.
A good physical exam with tests such are Tinel's and Phalen's for hand or other similar tests depending on the part of the body involved help in the diagnosis of entrapment neuropathy.
Following Are The Commonly Used Imaging Tests For Diagnosing Entrapment Neuropathy: