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In this issue of Muscle News, we will address the irritating, painful and sometimes disabling condition of a nerve being compressed in our bodies. With even just a brief instant of compression on a nerve, such as when we hit our "funny bone" in the elbow (the Ulnar Nerve), we can experience shooting pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. When prolonged compression of a nerve occurs, such as a pinched nerve in the neck or low back (for example, sciatica), it can be extremely painful or even debilitating. A nerve that is commonly compressed and creates serious pain, numbness and weakness in the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers is called the Median Nerve, and it can be tricky, evading proper diagnosis and thwarting attempts at treatment. Its tendency to get trapped and compressed at multiple places from the neck to the wrist earns it the nickname the "Pinch Me" nerve.
When John started receiving trigger point therapy, it was after a long struggle with tendonitis-like pain in his hands. He had seen a doctor who told him he had Rheumatoid Arthritis. John went to a specialist at a prominent hospital who was considered to be one of the best in the country. This doctor ran some additional testing which revealed that John DID NOT have Rheumatoid Arthritis. He told John that what he had was Myofascial Pain.
If there is one muscle group that must be evaluated in every case of hand and arm pain, it is the group of three neck muscles called the Scalenes. The ability of the Scalenes to trap and compress nerves and blood vessels led Dr. Janet Travell (physician to JFK) to give them the nickname, "The Entrappers."