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Interesting facts about the nerves

The Nerves

The nervous system is basically the body’s electrical wiring with electrical signals being sent to and from the brain. The nervous system is made up of two parts which are the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (everything else). The peripheral nervous systems job is to connect the central nervous system with the rest of the body therefore allowing our brain to send and receive signals.

There are many interesting facts about the nerves but these are a few that I find very interesting and I hope that you do too. Next time you are visiting us here in Eastbourne ask your chiropractor to show you the nerve chart.

Image shows Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason looking at a nerve chart to accompany the blog he has written about interesting facts about the nerves.

Eastbourne Chiropractor Mykel Mason explains about the nervous system.

Nerve facts in numbers

  1. There are more nerve cells in the human body than the number of stars in the Milky Way.
  2. 100 billion neurones make up the human brain and if these were to be lined up would measure 600 miles long.
  3. In a foetus, neurones grow at 250,000 neurones per minute.
  4. 5 million neurones make up the spinal cord with the cluster of nerves at the base being the most sensitive.
  5. To connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body there are 43 different pairs of nerves. 12 pairs come out from the brain (protected by the skull) and the other 31 from the spinal cord (protected by the spine).
  6. Messages sent to the brain can travel as fast as 180 miles per hour.
  7. During the course of its first year a baby’s brain will grow to almost three times the size at birth.
  8. Because of the shape of the brain the total surface area is about 25,000 square centimetres.
  9. The brain of a man, on average, weighs around 100g more than that of a woman.
  10. The brain of a fully-grown adult is approximately three times as heavy as that of a newborn baby however, after the age of 20, we lose 1g in weight every year.

Miscellaneous Nerve facts

  1. Due to an area at the top of the neck the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain the left side of the body.
  2. The brain and spinal cord begin to develop in a foetus three weeks after conception.
  3. Most of the brain, at any given point, is inactive and resting with only 4% of the cells active at any moment in time.
  4. It has been estimated that 12% of people dream in black and white. This is believed to be due to watching black and white television as most of these people are over 55.
  5. When blind people dream, whether they dream in picture is down to whether they could see when they were born or were born blind. If they were born blind dreams would typically consist of different senses such as sound, smell, taste and touch.

The study of the nervous system is called neuroscience. Nerves can be very sensitive and are susceptible to physical injury and injury through disease. This can lead to severe pain, tingling, numbness and weakness. One of the most common injuries to nerves occurs to the sciatic nerve and this is often accompanied by severe pain down the back of the leg with tingling and numbness in the foot and often weakness also. This kind of injury generally only effects one side and can be due to a multitude of things. One of the most common is a disc injury in the lower spine (slipped disc).

Look out for my next blog on interesting facts about bones.

Yours in health,

Mykel Mason, your Eastbourne chiropractor

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

James Revell, chiropractor at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne explains what Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is and how it can affect people.

Because Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects up to 5,000 people in Eastbourne and the surrounding area I thought I’d use this blog post to share some facts and information about it for my patients.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs down your arm into your hand, gets compressed at the wrist.  The median nerve controls sensation in your palm, thumb and fingers, but not the little finger.  It also controls some movement in your wrist.  It’s made up of branches from the nerves that come out of your neck from C5, C6, C7 and C8.

James Revell Doctor of Chiropractic, Eastbourne showing the nerves from the neck, which contribute to the Median nerve, which is the nerve effected in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Picture of the nerves from the neck,  including the median nerve, which is involved in carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

 

Median Nerve And The Carpal Tunnel At The Wrist.

Carpal Tunnel - Median Nerve at the wrist

Median nerve and the carpal tunnel at the wrist. (copied from http://theheartysoul.com/)

The carpal tunnel itself is made by the bones of your wrist and the tough ligaments that hold them together.  Running through the tunnel are various tendons, nerves and blood vessels.  Sometimes thickening of the ligaments or tendons, or stiffness of the joints, or swelling in general (e.g. during pregnancy) can compress nerves. When this occurs in the median nerve there are a number of distinct symptoms that indicate carpal tunnel syndrome – such as weakness, numbness and pain radiating up the arm.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common of the entrapment neuropathies, accounting for 90% of all peripheral nerve compression syndromes.  Some studies suggest that 5% of people suffer with carpal tunnel-type symptoms.  The most common age is 45-60 year olds.

Although carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common and most well-known peripheral trapped nerve problem, it’s possible to get a trapped nerve at many points throughout the body.

Trapped nerves are more correctly referred to as compression neuropathies. There are numerous ways your nerves can be damaged, but in this blog we are focusing on the compression type of injuries, which are responsible for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Your peripheral nerves can also be pinched, irritated or compressed as they leave the spine for example by a slipped disc, or arthritis in the spine (aka spondylitis). Symptoms will affect just one part of the body, depending on where the nerve is trapped (compress or irritated). However, to clarify I’ve had a number of patients with carpal tunnel who’ve suffered with the symptoms in their hand but also an ache radiating up their forearm.

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a Type of Compressional Neuropathy

screen shot of Dictionary.com’s definition of neuropathy copied from www.dictionary.com

screen shot of Dictionary.com’s definition of neuropathy from www.dictionary.com

There can be a range of factors that cause Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Overuse and in particular using vibrating machinery, such as a pneumatic drill, is often to blame for these this type of trapped nerves. However, there may also be something that’s causes swelling in the patient, for example Rheumatoid Arthritis or with pregnancy etc.

Some people have a congenital predisposition (having a smaller tunnel than others). When I was studying the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (http://www.aecc.ac.uk/) I remember reading a statistic suggesting that Caucasians were most likely to suffer with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome but I can’t find that reference and it’ll be over a decade out of date by now. If you have a genetic predisposition then other people in your family will have suffered with Carpal Tunnel too. But remember, think about what jobs they have or do they have rheumatoid arthritis etc.

Women are three times more likely to get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome than men.  Experts believe this is because the carpal tunnel itself is smaller in women.  Women are also 3 to 5 times more likely to suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis than men, while the fact that women go through pregnancy also skews the statistics somewhat.

Carpal tunnel symptoms usually start as a burning or tingling / pins and needles sensation in your hand and wrist, which easily settles when you shake your hand out.  In my experience people first notice these symptoms when sleeping at night.  Typically swelling will build up as we lie still sleeping, plus if you lie on your wrist you’ll compress the carpal tunnel even more.

Early diagnosis and treatment is important

If you have any questions about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or other trapped nerves, why not leave your comment below or ask a member of the team at Lushington Chiropractic. The intention of this blog post is to share information about carpal tunnel syndrome with my patients, so they can better understand what’s going on if they have this condition.