Pinched Nerve

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve is also known as a compressed nerve. This is a condition that occurs when something in the body, be it a muscle, tendon, bone, or other organ that impinges upon the nerve and prevents it from being able to function as it would normally. Because the nerves throughout the body are responsible for carrying signals from the brain to the rest of the body and vice versa, a pinched or compressed nerve can cause numerous problems for the person suffering from it, including severe pain and discomfort.

There are numerous reasons that a person may suffer from a pinched nerve. The direct cause of a pinched nerve is too much pressure on the nerve. However, the reasons that this pressure occurs can vary. A pregnant woman, for example, may suffer from a pinched nerve because of the shifts in her pelvis and spine as the fetus grows. A herniated disc in the spine can also cause a pinched nerve as can carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome. If people have bony tumors or misshapen bones, this could also pinch or compress nerves throughout the body.

What are the Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve?

Pain is often the most noticeable sign of a pinched nerve. This can be pain directly in the area of the nerve pinch like the neck, lower back, or shoulder. The pain can also be of the radiating kind where the pain extends from the location of the pinched nerve, generally down through the lower extremities. A person may feel as if an area of their body is tingling or numb, and may even experience weakness in the muscles in the affected body parts.

How is a Pinched Nerve Treated?

There are numerous treatment options for a pinched nerve that vary based on the severity of the condition. For a pinched nerve that causes mild symptoms, resting the area and avoiding any activities that exacerbate it can often help it to heal over time. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can also help with pain and inflammation.

In more severe cases, pinched nerves may require corticosteroid injections, prescription pain medications, splinting and even surgery. Surgery for a pinched nerve is designed to relieve the pressure from the nerve. This can involve moving the nerve to a slightly different position, altering the bone structure, or making other changes to keep the nerve from being pinched in the future.

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Last Reviewed:
October 08, 2016
Last Updated:
August 28, 2017