What are Pinched Nerves?

Pinched nerve is a general term for pain in a nerve or impaired function of a nerve that is under pressure. This happens to nerves that control muscle movements and to nerves that relay sensations to the brain. Common causes of pinched nerves include:
  • Bulging discs in the spine, causing back, leg or shoulder pain.
  • Compression of a nerve at the elbow or wrist.
  • A prolonged cramped posture.
  • Arthritis.
  • An abnormal bone growth, such as a bone spur in the foot.
  • Use of a cast or crutches.
  • Repetitive motion on the job. or
  • A tumor.

The initial symptoms of a pinched nerve may be tingling, numbness, a burning sensation, or shooting pains. Sometimes the pains and sensations are somewhat distant from the point of pressure. If there is nerve damage from constant pressure, pain and weakness may increase. There may be a loss of reflexes or movement skills. Finally, there may be a loss of sensation in the affected area.

The following steps may relieve discomfort from a pinched nerve:
  • Pain killers, such as aspirin or acetaminophen.
  • A heating pad.
  • Wearing a splint or brace.
  • Rubbing and gently shaking out affected limb.
  • Lying down and letting affected limb hang below body.

Common sense measures can lessen the condition, such as taking breaks, changing position often, keeping good posture, and not lifting heavy objects. Some causes, such as ruptured discs, may not be responsive to self–help remedies. In such cases, your care provider may prescribe drugs, physical therapy, or perhaps surgery to lessen or remove the compression.