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Pinched Nerve

Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Possible Symptoms for Pinched Nerve

1. Numbness

A pinched nerve is a condition that occurs when a nerve experiences too much pressure to the point where its main function is interrupted. One of the symptoms of a pinched nerve is numbness or decreased sensation in the area where the nerve is located.[1]

2. Pain

Pinched nerves can be painful and are common. The pain is often sharp, and it usually radiates outward from the point where the nerve is located. Radicular pain or sciatica are both possible symptoms of a pinched nerve.[2]

3. Tingling sensation

Also known as paresthesia, or a tingling, pins-and-needles sensation, is also common with a pinched nerve. Many people describe a burning sensation as well, which can be attributed to the same tingling sensation mixed with pain.

4. Muscle weakness

The muscles in the area of the pinched nerve will often be weakened as a result of a pinched nerve.[1] It can also feel like the limbs involved have fallen asleep, as when the blood circulation is reduced from a limb being in an unusual position for a long period of time.

Top 5 Causes of Pinched Nerve

1. Injury

Most people who experience a pinched nerve do so from an injury, such as a mild car accident. Pinched nerves are most likely to occur in the wrists, neck, elbows, and back, so anyone who injures these areas could potentially experience this condition.[3]

2. Repetitive Motions

Repetitive motions, such as working on a computer all day, can potentially lead to a pinched nerve. Individuals with poor posture who continue the same repetitive motions at their desks could experience this problem too.[3]

3. Sports and hobbies

Playing sports that require repetitive actions or motions, such as tennis, can potentially lead to problems with pinched nerves. In addition, some hobbies like gardening can cause the same problem if the person is constantly doing something that puts stress on a part of the body.

4. Inflammatory conditions

Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis can potentially lead to a pinched nerve. This is because the swelling occurs around the nerve, which constricts it, leading to a pinched nerve.[4] In addition, some thyroid diseases can cause swelling in different parts of the body, which can lead to compressed nerves.

5. Obesity

Unfortunately, obesity can also be a cause of pinched nerves. Carrying extra weight can put more pressure on the nerves in certain parts of the body, which can lead to compression and pain. Sudden weight gain, such as the type caused by a thyroid condition, can create pinched nerves as well.

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2 Ways to Prevent Pinched Nerve

1. Lifestyle changes

Making a few changes to your lifestyle can help you avoid a pinched nerve. For example, practice good posture when working at your desk, or whenever you are sitting or standing. If you play tennis or another sport that is likely to cause a pinched nerve, make sure your technique is top-form.

2. Live a healthy lifestyle

In addition, living a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward making a difference. This means staying fit, working out regularly (but not too much), maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, not smoking, and drinking lots of water.[5] All of these actions, which are beneficial for your whole health, can also help you avoid problems with pinched nerves.

Possible Pinched Nerve Treatment Options

1. Rest the area

One of the best ways to treat a pinched nerve is simply to rest the area as long as possible.[6] Avoiding the activity that caused the pinched nerve in the first place—whether it’s playing a sport, indulging in a hobby, or even texting—is key. You can even make a splint at home to ensure that the area is not strained further.

2. At-home remedies

Using certain at-home remedies can be helpful to your pinched nerve, especially if it is mild but painful. These can include small, gentle stretches that help to relieve any pressure on the nerve, using heating pads to warm the area of the pinched nerve for 10 to 15-minute intervals, using ice packs to minimize swelling, and elevating the area. If you have a pinched nerve in your lower back, you can elevate your legs to relieve the pressure as well.[6]

3. Pain relievers

In most cases, pinched nerves will go away on their own, especially if you give the area sufficient time to rest. However, it can be very uncomfortable to deal with a pinched nerve, so you may decide to take over-the-counter medications to minimize pain. NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin are usually effective because they bring down inflammation, which is part of the cause of a pinched nerve.

4. Surgery

In rare cases, surgery may be necessary if the nerve is not responding to any other treatments.[7] Different surgeries are required depending on the area of the pinched nerve(s); however, all surgeries for this issue are focused on relieving pain and pressure from the area of the nerve.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask about Pinched Nerve

  • How long have you been experiencing symptoms of a pinched nerve?
  • Were you injured recently?
  • Do you have arthritis or a thyroid condition?
  • What kind of job do you have?
  • Do you play sports or have any hobbies?
  • Have you tried to do anything to treat your condition at home, and if so, what?

Pinched Nerve May Also be Known as:

  • Compressed nerve
  • Radiculopathy
  • Lumbar radiculopathy
  • Cervical radiculopathy
  • Mononeuropathy

References

7 Sources

Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.