Is Nerve Tension Causing Your Pain?

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Nerves are some of the most important structures in our body. They are responsible for all movement, sensation and control all our bodily functions. We know from our experience and scientific research (Hall & Elvey), that nerves need to slide and glide freely as we move for normal function to occur. 

Why test for neural tension?

If nerves are not sliding/moving well, this can lead to pain, altered movement, muscle weakness and many other symptoms(pins and needles, numbness, burning sensations etc).
The lack of adequate movement of the nerve creates signals that are received by the brain, and the brain then creates a protective response within the body. This protective response can take the form of the symptoms described above, or more subtle responses like muscle guarding that can be measured with clinical assessment.

This is why we test neural movement first. It is also the start of the problem solving process, and clearing neural tension first removes one of the potential blockages to good musculoskeletal health. This also removes the nerve tension contribution to a presenting problem.

This is one of the things that sets our approach, the Ridgway Method, apart from standard physiotherapy.

Nerve pic

Did you know that muscles protect nerves?  

Muscles will often tighten or ‘guard’ as a way to protect the nerve if it is not moving well. In our experience, without addressing nerve dysfunction first, any treatment we provide to tight or tense muscles and joints is unlikely to be effective in the long term. The nerve dysfunction or irritation is essentially a block to effective treatment.  

Neurodynamic Testing

Your physiotherapist will carefully assess your nerve mobility, which is a sensitive painless test to identify early restriction of movement or muscle guarding. If there is a restriction(positive test), gentle but specific mobilising techniques are used to clear the restriction. This is the first step of our thorough, whole body assessment to ensure effective resolution of your condition.

It is also an excellent objective measure of progress with treatment when your nerves are moving well and you test clear.

Nerve testing Before and After Photos.

These tests are passive tests performed up to the first point of resistance/guarding detected by the therapist. This point in range is called R1. We test the upper limbs, the lower limbs and the nerves running through the spinal canal.

Lower Limb Nerve Test


Top Image – Before nerve clearing. Bottom Image – After nerve clearing.

Upper Limb Nerve Test


Top Image – Before nerve clearing. Bottom Image – After nerve clearing.


Further Reading about Neural Testing

For further information on neuro-dynamic testing and whether our treatment approach is right for you, you can either contact us through the website or call the clinic and one of our physiotherapists will be more than happy to assist you. 


Hall, T.M. & Elvey, R.L (1999) Nerve Trunk Pain: Physical Diagnosis and Treatment. Manual Therapy Masterclass, 4(2), 63-73.