Friday, 20 March 2009

Day 88 - Trapped Nerve

"Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle.
Nerve Pain (Neuralgia, Neuropathy, Neuritis), is a type of pain which originates from the peripheral and/or central nervous system. The source of the pain is commonly due to the nerve being trapped, compressed, or pinched, and less commonly due to some other disease process affecting the nerve.

The term "trapped nerve" refers to a condition in which a nerve is compressed or pinched. This causes pain, numbness, weakness or other symptoms. There are many sites and causes of nerve compression, including:

* A disc in the back or neck — Spinal discs can bulge or tear, pressing on nerves as they travel to and from the spinal cord; sciatica is a common example of a "trapped nerve" that may be due to disc disease.

* Arthritis in the wrist — The median nerve travels through the carpal tunnel, a tight space in the wrist that is easily compressed by swelling in the joint.
* Enlarged tissues — Growth of a lymph node, an abscess (an infection) or a tumor can compress a nearby nerve.
* Injury - A nerve can be compressed by swelling, fracture, or bleeding following trauma; simply leaning on your elbows can compress the ulnar nerve that travels just under the skin."*


A tall, slight, well-disposed man greeted me with an amicable smile. I took an immediate liking to the neurologist, and felt at ease when recounting what I have been through with my headache.

He attentively listened and asked me to lie on the bed.

I confided my (what may sound ridiculous) fear of possibly having a brain tumour.

He told me it is highly unlikely that my headache is due to a brain tumour, given my young age (I am only 24). He also explained that the first signs of having a brain tumour are - interestingly - not headaches, rather loss of coordination and confusion.

He carried out the usual routine examination. Everything was normal.

In the past few days my back and neck have been stiff and sore, and the doctor appeared to be sure it must be a trapped nerve.

I explained that I am currently seeing an osteopath; he enthusiastically supported this, and encouraged me to carry on with more sessions.

He also suggested soaking in a hot bath every evening, and recommended wearing hot patches on my neck.

Although the neurologist is virtually sure nothing will show up, he booked me in for an MRI scan, for peace of mind.

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