Healthy Living

Do I Have a Pinched Nerve?

Do I Have a Pinched Nerve?

Pinched nerve, or nerve compression, refers to a situation in which the surrounding tissues apply pressure on a nerve. Pinched nerve may cause severe pain, tingling, numbness, or other symptoms. Nerve compression may affect different sites of the body and this may result in varied symptoms. The effects of a pinched nerve may be permanent or temporary. Success of treatment depends on early diagnosis and treatment of the condition. In many of the cases the damage is not reversible. But in most, appropriate treatment will help in alleviating the symptoms of pinched nerve.

Nerve compression may result from repeated movement or by remaining in the same posture for a long duration. One such example is keeping the elbows bent for a long time during sleeping. Nerve compression mostly happens with nerves that pass through narrow spaces without much protection from connective tissue. In most places, nerves are protected by connective tissue surrounding them. Thus, it is common in nerves that are compressed between ligaments, tendons, and bones.

Compression of the roots of the nerves exiting from the spine may result in neck and low back pain. Symptoms often change based on the nerve and location of pressure. Compression of the nerves in the neck and arm may result in symptoms of elbow, hand, wrist, and fingers. Some of the complications associated with pinched nerves are peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tennis elbow.

As compression persists, the protective barrier around the nerve may degrade resulting in inflammation, pressure and scarring of nerves. This affects the nerves function leading to different symptoms.

Symptoms of pinched nerves:

  • Pain in the compressed area
  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness in the affected region
  • Tingling sensation
  • Burning sensation in the affected area
  • Weakness

The symptoms may worsen with movements. The intensity of symptoms varies from person to person. Treatment options depend on the cause and severity of the condition. One should be careful not to move the affected region much. If the condition is caused by scar tissues, disc materials or pieces of bone, it will have to be removed to alleviate the pain. 

Treatment options:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines for managing pain
  • Corticosteroids for reducing swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy for strengthening muscles
  • Splint for limiting motion of the affected area
  • Surgery if the condition does not respond to other treatments
  • Narcotics for reducing severe pain