Nerve Entrapment

Nerve entrapment can be painful and
debilitating. Problems with nerves can
occur not only in the spine but also
along the path the nerve takes through
the torso and extremities. Nerves can
be trapped between bones, muscles,
and other tissues in any given area. An
applied kinesiology specialist is trained
to identify the cause of soft tissue nerve
entrapment, isolate and treat the key
issues, and teach selfcare to maintain
These types of injuries are very
common in sports or repetitive stress
activities on the job. Nerve injuries can
cause pain, weakness or numbing
sensations. In this manner, they mimic
spinal problems and are many times
misdiagnosed. For example, when there
is weakness in the hand or you wake up
and your hand is stiff and has “fallen
asleep,” you think it is a problem with
your wrist or hand. The problem may
very well be that the nerves are trapped
under a muscle that is too short and
tight where the nerve exits your chest
going into your arm.
Many examples of nerve entrapment
exist: a golfer or tennis player gets a
pain in the elbow, or wakes up at night
with a numb hand. Reaching overhead
causes shoulder pain. Removing a
wallet out of the back pocket or
fastening a bra creates pain in the arm.
The symptom may actually be related to
another area where the nerves are
being stretched or entrapped. !
The elbow problem could be tendinitis
or it could be the entrapment of a nerve
under a muscle that’s being used.
Reaching over head could be a problem
with the rotator cuff or the stretching of
a nerve in the vicinity of an unstable
shoulder blade.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is often
identified as weakness and atrophy of
the muscles of the thumb. The nerve to
this area of the hand can be involved
and entrapped in six different areas as it
leaves the spine and travels down the
arm. It is rare to find the nerve is
entrapped in only one place. Similarly,
nerves that that travel to the foot can be
trapped or stretched in six different
places from the pelvis to the ankle.
Again, it is common to find that a person
with lower leg symptoms like ache or
weakness has more than one place that
the nerve has been entrapped. For
example, Dr. Janet Travell, who was
President John Kennedy's medical
doctor, has written that more nerve
entrapments in the pelvis caused by the
piriformis muscle exist than there are
disc protrusions related to symptoms in
the leg.
An accurate history with your applied
kinesiology practitioner is the first key.
Does the ache, pain or weakness occur
during a specific movement? Does it
occur after you do the same motion
many times? Is there a position that
makes it better? The answers to these
questions can help determine the
potential areas or area where the nerve
can be adversely affected and help to
determine what tests need to be done to
isolate the problem.
Accurate muscle testing performed by
an applied kinesiologist with extremities
in different positions can help to
diagnose the problem.
For example, the muscles of your
hand may test strong in a relaxed
position. But, by putting your hand in a
functional position, like pushing up
from a chair, the muscles may
weaken. Specific testing gets specific
results. A hidden problem in the wrist
where the nerves are trapped can be
revealed by the slightest adjustment to
testing. In other words, rotating your
forearm may uncover a problem at the
elbow that is trapping the same nerve,
and reaching behind you causing the
hand to go weak indicates yet another
area of nerve entrapment.
To correct these problems, you first
have to isolate and identify each of the
areas where the nerve is entrapped.
The nerve could be stretched or
impinged upon by
a short or a weak
muscle. To treat
these conditions,
an accurate
diagnosis is the
key to effective
Trouble opening
a jar indicates
weak hand
muscles. When
pulling the
shoulders back
and raising the
chest cage
results in the
hand becoming
stronger, it indicates the nerves are
trapped in the outer portion of the
chest under one of the pectoral
To correct this condition, two things
must be done. First, the shortened
muscle must be stretched and,
second, the inhibited muscles of the
upper back and shoulder that would
normally oppose the action of the
shortened pectoral muscle must be
strengthened by restoring muscle tone
with applied kinesiology methods. !
One mistake commonly made is
exercising muscles that do not function
properly. Often this further injures the
muscles, which only become weaker.
Here the cause of the under
functioning muscle must be
addressed. This might be due to
trauma to the muscle itself or possibly
a problem with the spine that results in
the muscle inhibition. After correction,
exercise of the muscle may be needed
with muscle testing used to determine
the optimal exercise for the muscle
and to monitor your progress. !
In all of these cases, the stretching or
the entrapment of the nerve leads to
inflammation. There are both positive
and negative factors that can affect the
healing rate of the nerve. Your diet can
contain both pro-inflammatory and
anti-inflammatory elements and the
ratios of the nutrients may need to be
The tools of Applied
Kinesiology allow us
to examine and find
the the location of
entrapment and its’
cause, test for both
positive and
negative factors in
the diet to include
possible nutritional
supplementation to
speed healing.
Finally, some
lifestyle changes
may be needed.
These could include
things like the types of shoes you wear
in foot entrapments, sleep positions,
pillow height, or postural changes as in
how you sit at work, at home, or
driving the car.
David Leaf, DC is a diplomate and
certified teacher for the ICAK, past
Chairman of the Board for the
ICAKUSA chapter, and has written
reference manuals for doctors to learn
applied kinesiology. Dr. Leaf has done
extensive work with professional
athletes and athletic teams and
practices in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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