Arm and hand pain causes: Nerve irritation (hypersensitivity) or nerve compression

Arm pain, Hand pain, Understanding pain / Friday, November 27th, 2009

This is a series on arm and hand pain causes. If you missed the beginning, go back to the Checklist.

Nerve irritation and compression are a focus of medical diagnoses and treatments for the relief of pain. What to do with muscles that become chronically painful as a result is another story. In my Neuromuscular Therapy practice in Metro-West Boston, I often treat this problem of continued muscle pain when conditions like herniated discs have healed.

When nerves are irritated or compressed they send distress signals to the muscles along their nerve pathways. If the stimulus continues, the muscles become sensitive. Think of what happens when you rub someone’s arm. At first it feels good, but if you rub in the same place for too long, it begins to get sensitive. If that can happen within a few minutes, think what happens over weeks of irritation. Inflammation results and all the complications that occur when it becomes chronic.

Hypersensitivity happens with nerve irritation and chronic inflammation, but also when the fluids that bathe the nerves becomes toxic. If waste products and irritating substances from food and the environment are allowed to build up in these interstitial fluids, the nerves are forced to live in a toxic environment. If the toxins aren’t drained efficiently by the blood and lymph systems, hypersensitivity results.

Active Trigger Points emit chemicals that are damaging to soft tissue and send pain signals outward to specific referral zones. Tight muscles put pressure on blood vessels in the upper body that trap toxins in the arms and hands and prevent delivery of healing cells. Irritation of nerves rubbing against bones in the elbow cause inflammation. Overworked muscles produce waste products from burning metabolic fuels. All of these circumstances cause inflammation that produces toxins in the arms and hands that must be removed to prevent nerve irritation and hypersensitivity.