Nerve Root Irritation

Great work on coming this far! Once you read this page answer the questions on the sheet given by your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia and bring that to your next treatment session. Recovery from your nerve root irritation is crucial in order to achieve your goals and gain rapid and long-lasting results. Your physiotherapist at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia has requested you read this page so that you understand your condition and know how to best manage in between physiotherapy consultations.

Nerve Root IrritationWhat is nerve root irritation?

Nerve root irritation is when the nerves exiting your spine have been irritated and sensitised. This commonly results from structures close to the nerve, such as joints, ligaments, or muscles, that have sustained an accumulative strain which results in swelling and inflammation. When the swelling and inflammation touches the nerve root, the nerve sends strong signals to the brain to let it know it's suffering.

What happens to the body?

Your brain then interprets these signals to then create a protective response to avoid further damage to the nerve. These protective responses vary from people to people and can experience radiating pain down the arm or leg with muscle tightness and guarding. You may also feel numbness, pins and needles, tingling, cramping or an ache sensation. Nerve root irritation also inhibits the body from recovering as fast as it should do. Nerve irritation is not to be confused with nerve root compression or a pinched nerve. This is the worst end of the scale whereby the nerve is being compressed resulting in loss in muscle control and feeling in the arm or leg.

How do I know I suffer from nerve root irritation?

The best method for diagnosing this condition is a gentle manual assessment that all Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia Clinicians are highly skilled at performing.

What should I do to avoid aggravating my nerve root irritation?

  • DO NOT stretch the arm or leg in a stretched out position. (Do not place your feet up while sitting, no striding out with large steps when walking, no reaching with your arms to your side or behind your back like reaching in the back seat, no carrying in that arm or over that shoulder.)
  • DO NOT sit for longer than absolutely necessary
  • DO NOT prop your head up with pillows to read/use a computer while lying on your back
  • RECEIVE physiotherapy care to get your joints, ligaments and muscles de-loaded and moving freely with no restrictions.
Sometimes people with nerve root irritation can also experience neural tension as well. Nerves in our body need to be able to adapt to mechanical loads, such as from your body’s movements:
  • Elongation
  • Sliding
  • Angulation
  • Compression of the nerve

Tips from our physiotherapists

Watch the videos below to learn how to perform neural flossing exercises to help relieve your symptoms. Keep good care of your body and your physiotherapist will continue to monitor your condition. Once your nerve root irritation has resolved you will be able to resume your full activities and use your arms and legs however you wish without worrying about future flare-ups.
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