A classic nerve blockage is understood to mean the impairment or complete blockage of peripheral nerves in their function as stimulus conductors for motor, sensory and vegetative impulses. The permanent or facultative impairment of the nerves can be triggered by mechanical pressure or traction stimuli or by chemical stimuli and, depending on the severity of the lesion, lead to constant pain and restricted function of the affected muscles up to complete paralysis and weakness.
What is a nerve block?
Peripheral nerves are usually multifunctional and consist of specialized motor, sensory and vegetative nerve fibers (fascia), which are isolated from one another by sheath tissue and are surrounded by the epineurium as a nerve cord. The motor fascia transmit voluntary contraction and relaxation impulses to “their” muscles, which then contract or relax. See phonecations for All You Need to Know About Immune Complex Vasculitis.
While the sensitive fascia “transport” sensory and haptic stimuli – including pain sensations – the vegetative fibers serve to conduct impulses for control circuits that are not subject to the will. Since the peripheral nerves sometimes have to overcome anatomical bottlenecks or run in special bone channels, they can be damaged by muscle tension as a result of overload or one-sided and recurring incorrect loads caused by pressure or tension.
This causes corresponding motor, sensory and vegetative disorders, which can also manifest themselves as intense pain. A total blockage of the nerve, e.g. B. as a result of a transection results in the total paralysis of “his” muscle because the muscle no longer receives any motor contraction impulses.
In addition to accidents that can lead to direct lesions of peripheral nerves, the main causes of nerve blocks are usually recurring incorrect posture and stress. It is then a matter of repetitive strain injury (SRI), which can manifest itself through a variety of symptoms. The trigger factor can already be highly monotonous, prolonged writing on the screen if the workplace is ergonomically suboptimal and at the same time there is permanent stress due to multitasking, which triggers a permanent tone in various muscles and can lead to compression damage to the peripheral nerves.
Another typical cause of a peripheral nerve blockage can be a herniated disc, in which the disc tissue exerts pressure on the nerve root at the exit opening from the spinal canal. Depending on the impairment of the affected nerve, pain and symptoms can radiate into the supply areas of the affected nerve.
In addition to mechanical contusions and lesions, nerve blocks can also be caused systemically by chemical substances (e.g. poisoned by fungi, snakes or jellyfish), some of which can be irreversible and irreparable or even life-threatening.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of a nerve block depend on its cause. If the disease is due to a bad posture that has lasted for years, complaints in the back and in the shoulder and neck area often occur. These can resemble tension or stiffness, or express themselves as severe pain. These symptoms can also occur in the cervical and thoracic spine if the disease is triggered by incorrect posture.
Another common symptom is a long-lasting headache. Accidents are also one of the known causes of a nerve block. If these wear and tear and cause a cervical vertebra syndrome, complaints occur in the shoulder and neck area. In the worst case, feelings of paralysis or numbness can arise, which last for a long time or are only noticed after a certain time.
A past whiplash injury is often the cause of these symptoms. If blood vessels or nerves are pinched, those affected often notice a tingling sensation in their arms and hands, as if these limbs had “fallen asleep”. The underlying condition is called Scaleneus Syndrome and refers to the nerves that lie between the shoulder blade, collarbone and cervical spine. Another symptom of nerve blockage is breathing difficulties. These can be a result of any of the above causes.
Diagnosis & History
The main symptoms of a nerve block are constant pain with simultaneous tingling in the limb supplied by the affected nerve and noticeable loss of strength in the limb. If a nerve blockage is suspected, an examination of the motor function, haptics and pain sensitivity follows.
Further clinical clarification possibilities lie in the measurement of the nerve conduction velocity and in an electromyography (EMG). The EMG can provide information about whether a muscle weakness is due to a disease of the muscle itself or to the reduced functionality of the nerve.
In serious cases, an imaging procedure such as myelography or CT can be used. If nerve blockages remain untreated and the causes of the blockage do not recede, or if the body cannot eliminate possible poisoning, irreversible paralysis, insensitivity to pain and muscle atrophy occur because the muscles are no longer required.
The symptoms and complications of a nerve block depend very much on the severity of the disease. As a rule, those affected suffer from severe pain and also from paralysis and sensory disorders. This paralysis can also spread to other regions of the body and lead to restrictions in the everyday life of the person concerned. Furthermore, the patients also appear exhausted and powerless and often can no longer move their muscles.
In some cases, the patients are dependent on the help of other people in their everyday life and suffer from significant movement restrictions. The patient’s sensitivity to pain also increases significantly due to the nerve block and muscle atrophy occurs if the nerve block lasts for a longer period of time. The quality of life of those affected is significantly reduced and limited by the disease.
In this case, treatment can take place with the help of various therapies and thus alleviate the symptoms. However, it cannot be universally predicted whether this will be successful. Surgical interventions are also possible in some cases to release the nerve blockage. The patient’s life expectancy may also be reduced as a result of the nerve block.
When should you go to the doctor?
If tension, pain or numbness occurs, a nerve blockage may be the cause. A doctor must be consulted if the symptoms do not go away on their own within a few days to weeks or if they appear suddenly. If there is severe pain or restricted movement, an immediate visit to the doctor is necessary. People who have suffered a herniated disc or a serious accident with contusions and lesions are particularly prone to developing a nerve block.
People with chronic poor posture and stress are also among the risk groups and should consult a doctor if they experience the symptoms mentioned. The doctor can quickly identify a nerve block and refer the patient to a suitable specialist. The condition is treated by an orthopedist or internist, depending on the nature and severity of the condition. The actual therapy usually also involves physiotherapists or sports physicians. In order to ensure a speedy recovery, close consultation with a doctor must also be maintained during the treatment. In severe cases, treatment in a rehabilitation center is necessary.
Treatment & Therapy
In the case of clearly diagnosed nerve blockages, the first goal of therapy is to eliminate the cause of the nerve damage so that the nerve can then regenerate. In many cases, conservative physiotherapy and other accompanying applications can help.
Special deblocking techniques can also be used, which consist in attempting passive or active remobilization of the affected muscle parts. The specially trained therapist uses certain techniques to release the muscle blockage. If the nerve has been severed and the distal and proximal ends are too far apart, neurosurgery at a specialist clinic may be indicated.
During the operation, the two nerve endings are first identified and then connected to each other using a special technique so that they can regenerate after the operation. If it is not possible to connect the two nerve endings without tension, a piece of another endogenous nerve can be used as a bridging link.
Alternatively, it is also possible to relocate the nerve if this can avoid tensile stress that may later be feared. After such an operation, an immobilization period of at least 2 weeks must follow as a regeneration phase.
Outlook & Forecast
A one-off nerve block disappears within a few minutes. Any signs of paralysis, numbness, or pain should subside quickly. The prospect of a speedy recovery is positive as long as the patient determines the cause of the nerve block and consults a doctor.
If nerve blocks recur, the prognosis is less good. Nerve blockages represent a major stress factor for the body. The psychological stress is also great, since the timing and intensity of the blockages cannot be predicted. In the long term, this can lead to the development of anxiety disorders and other psychological problems. It is usually no longer possible to work in physically or mentally demanding occupations, since the nerve blocks inevitably lead to absences.
An alternative is drug treatment, which, however, is also associated with complications. The exact prognosis depends on whether the nerve blocks can be prevented by conservative treatment. If this is not possible, for example because of a neurodegenerative disease, the prognosis is based on the course of the causal disease. Life expectancy and quality of life also depend on the other symptoms and symptoms of the causative disease.
Prevention of nerve blockages consists mainly in avoiding recurring incorrect strain and permanent stress without recovery phases. Regular relaxation exercises, light and regular physical activity and gymnastics, which should primarily include muscle stretching, are recommended as active preventive measures.
In most cases, those affected with a nerve blockage have only very few and usually limited direct follow-up measures available. Therefore, early detection and treatment of this disease is paramount in order to prevent the occurrence of further complications and symptoms. Self-healing cannot occur, although the further course depends very much on the type and severity of this disease.
Therefore, no general prediction can be made about the further course. In many cases, those affected are dependent on the measures of physiotherapy or physiotherapy for the nerve blockade. Many of the exercises from these therapies can also be performed at home to speed healing.
Many of those affected depend on the help and support of their own families in their everyday lives. Loving conversations have a positive effect on the further course of this disease and can also prevent depression and other mental upsets. The nerve block usually does not reduce the patient’s life expectancy.
You can do that yourself
People who suffer from chronic nerve blocks are exposed to physical and mental stress. Medical therapy can effectively treat the health problems associated with a blockage of the nerves. This works best if the patient supports the treatment with some self-help measures.
First, however, the cause of the nerve blockage must be determined. A complaint diary provides information about possible triggers. The patient can then take specific measures to alleviate the symptoms. Depending on the cause, this can be physical activity, massages or even conversations with other affected people. In the case of psychological nerve blockages in particular, psychotherapeutic work -up of the causes is important.
After an operation, the patient first needs a lot of rest and relaxation. After that, physical exertion should initially be avoided, whereby the doctor’s specifications also play a role. Mild nerve blockages can often be relieved with moderate exercise. In addition, consultation with the doctor must be held so that the necessary measures can be taken quickly if the state of health deteriorates. The self-help measures mentioned should be used with the consent of the doctor.