• Matthew Anstey MCSP HCPC

Nerve Pain


Nerve pain can be an incredibly painful and debilitating issue and it's a lot more common than you would think. Sciatica is probably the most common presentation, a condition where the large sciatic nerve which runs down the back of the leg from the lumbar spine (lower back) becomes irritated or inflamed, and can give pain anywhere from the base of your spine all the way down to your foot.

The method shown in this photo is something I use to treat pain caused by nerves exiting the cervical spine (neck). These nerves predominantly supply the arms, and there is a large and very dense network of nerves that run through the shoulder called the brachial plexus. If you think about how dextrous, sensitive and finely tuned our arms and fingers are, you can begin to appreciate how many nerves are required to provide the you with such fine motor control and function.

If these nerves become irritated, stretched or pinched, it can lead to nerve pain, and this can be incredibly unpleasant if happening for prolonged periods. Often, we have to facilitate the recovery for this type pain, rather than have a specifics method for recovery. Symptom management is key. Your physiotherapist should attempt to gently free the area with various manual therapy treatments, as well as work out and correct any biomechanical dysfunction that may pre-dispose people to these issues. Physiotherapy encounters these cases more with those with sedentary lifestyles, but also those who keep fit and active, and of course it is possible to sustain nerve pain due to sports injury.


As a physiotherapist, it is my job to ensure that symptoms resolve and do not come back. With particularly irritable nerve symptoms from the cervical spine, the technique I use is shown in the photo below. I will often use tape to shift the biomechanics of the shoulder and offload any pressure placed on the aforementioned brachial plexus. This is done by using the tape with a superior (upwards) traction technique, reducing stretch on the nerves and giving traction and relief. The more stretch causing the pain, the more tape I sue to offload. I will always combine this with specific manual therapy, advice, and exercises to ensure the underlying cause for the pain is targeted.

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