Pinched nerves are very common.  They occur when there is too much pressure being applied to a nerve.  This can be caused by the surrounding bone, cartilage, muscles, or tendons.  Pinched nerves are the same as compressed nerves.  These can be minor or more severe.  The common areas where these occur are neck, shoulder, back, upper chest, arm, elbow, wrist and hand. 


Risk Factors

Anyone at any age can experience a pinched nerve. 

  • People 50 and older are at a higher risk.  This is due to arthritis and degeneration in the spine and other areas of the body. 
  • Women are more at risk to get pinched nerves as well. 
  • Bone spurs can also cause you to be at higher risk. 
  • Thyroid disease or diabetes can lead to more pinched nerves as well. 
  • Pinched nerves can be caused by repetitive motions or awkward movements.  Awkward movements could be twisting, carrying, or pulling.
  • Obesity, and pregnancy can also put you at a higher risk of pinched nerves due to the excess weight which can compress the nerves.  



Inflammation or pressure of a nerve root exiting the spine can cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm.  It can also cause pain to radiate into the leg and foot. 

Pain can feel sharp or dull and it may radiate outwards. 

A pinched nerve can also cause numbness. 

Muscle weakness in the affected area can also be a symptom. 

Tingling or a sensation that your foot or hand has fallen asleep.  


Lifestyle & Prevention

Pinched nerves can happen to anyone but there are some lifestyle changes you can do to try and prevent the risk of getting a pinched nerve.  One is to maintain good positioning.  This can be when lifting, sleeping, sitting or playing sports. 

You will want to add strength and flexibility exercises into your exercise routine. 

Limiting repetitive activities can also be helpful. 

You should also try to maintain a healthy weight.  



Usually pinched nerves are self diagnosed.  If pain becomes unmanageable you will want to reach out to your doctor. 

Pinched nerves in the elbow, hand, wrist, or fingers can lead to peripheral neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome.  Your doctor may want to do further testing. 

Blood tests can be done to check your thyroid or glucose levels to make sure your pinched nerves aren’t caused by diabetes, or thyroid disease. 

A spinal tap to remove cerebrospinal fluid and get it checked.  The cerebrospinal fluid will be checked for inflammation or infection. 

X-rays or an MRI can be done to look for nerve root compression.  A nerve conduction study can also be done to check for damaged nerves.  



A pinched nerve usually goes away on its own in a few weeks to a month.  With rest, ice, heat, and over the counter medication symptoms should be kept at bay. 

Ice can be helpful if there is inflammation present.  Heat can help relax the muscles surrounding the pinched nerve, which can give some relief.  Over the counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen should help.  If  none of these options are working you will want to reach out to your doctor for other treatment options. 

Physical therapy can help with a pinched nerve.  A physical therapist can teach you exercises and stretching to help alleviate pain, and stretch out the affected area. 

Stronger medications such as corticosteroids can also be helpful. 

Surgery can be done in extreme cases when the pinched nerve hasn’t been resolved after a few months.  Different surgeries may be performed depending on what is causing your pinched nerve.  Surgery could include removing bone spurs, herniated discs, or severing the carpal ligament.  



Pinched nerves happen when bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons surrounding the nerves become compressed.  Pain can be severe and radiate from the spot.  These usually resolve on their own in a few weeks’ time.  Learning stretches and exercises for your infected area can help reduce pain.  Keeping a healthy weight, maintaining good positioning, and limiting repetitive activities can lower your risk of suffering from a pinched nerve.  



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