What Is a Pinched Nerve?: The Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Danh NgoLow Back Pain, Pain Relief Division

Are you dealing with pain? Do you suspect that a pinched nerve is at play?

The symptoms of a pinched nerve include muscle weakness, sharp pains, burning sensations, numbness, and diminished sensations. You may also notice that your hands or feet fall asleep more often. The pain may feel as if pins or needles are prickling your skin. 

What is a pinched nerve?

It’s discomfort stemming from irregular pressure on your nerves. The pain is temporary in most cases. In more serious cases, you may need surgery.

You can treat the discomfort from home, but you should see a medical professional if home remedies don’t work after a few days. 

This article will explore pinched nerve complications in greater detail. Read further to know more. 

What Causes a Pinched Nerve? 

A pinched nerve occurs in the event of excessive pressure placed on the nerves. The pressure comes from the surrounding bone, tissue, muscles, and cartilage. The damage typically stems from injury. 

The pressure hampers the functioning of the nerves, resulting in pain and discomfort. Also, a pinched nerve can happen anywhere on the body. 

  • Examples: If you have a herniated disk, the nerve pressure may cause pain that shoots down your leg. If you have nerve pain in your wrist, you may have pain or numbness in your fingers. 

If the surrounding tissue causes pain within your hands, for example, you may suffer from carpal tunnel complications. The carpal tunnel entails a thin passageway that’s surrounded by ligaments and bones on your palm.

Otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ll experience pain when there’s compression on the median nerve. Tissue problems within your hands can also cause bruised tendon sheaths. 

Regardless, this form of injury can occur due to repetitive activity, intense sports, or work stress. Moreover, obesity can cause carpal tunnel. 

Risk Factors

Overall, excess body weight can cause a pinched nerve in any part of the body. Besides obesity, people contending with diabetes are more likely to suffer from nerve compression.

Diabetes can damage the nerves due to high glucose for extended periods. Otherwise known as diabetic neuropathy, this pain can affect different parts of the body. 

Also, those who lie down for extended periods are prone to pinched nerves due to the prolonged nerve compression. 

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable due to the weight gain that pressures the nerves and nerve pathways. Further, women are more likely to have carpal tunnel because they have narrower carpal tunnels. People with certain conditions are also at risk, such as:

  • People who have thyroid disease: In particular, hypothyroidism can cause fluid accumulation that places pressure on the nerves around the legs and arms. In other cases, thyroid issues can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • People who have arthritis: The inflammation stemming from rheumatoid arthritis can put pressure on your nerves and joints. 
  • People who have bone spurs: This type of trauma causes the bones to thicken, compressing the nerves. Further, this condition can impact your spinal cord and cause nerve issues. 

Pinched Nerve Treatment 

Rest is the best remedy for an impacted nerve. Rest as much as you can, as your body recovers more efficiently as you sleep. When sleeping, avoid putting pressure on the affected area. 

Plus, avoid exerting the injured area. If you have a pinched nerve within your wrist, try not to use your hand until it heals. 

Additionally, correct your posture. Poor posture can also cause a pinched nerve. Stand or sit up straight at all times. You can also use a cushion or headrest to alleviate the pressure. 

If you work at a desk, consider an ergonomic workstation instead. These workstations come in many forms.

  • Example: You can use a standing workstation to avoid sitting down. 

Other stations have an ergonomic keyboard and mouse to ease the pressure on your wrists and hands. 

If you’re contending with long-term pain, consider the following measures:

  • Taking medication: You can use over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen. If you’re on medication, however, consult with your doctor before using over-the-counter alternatives.
  • Stretch frequently: Light stretches can suppress the pressure and tension. Yoga is a great option. That said, avoid strenuous stretching.
  • Consult a physical therapist: A trained professional can give you a gentle massage to quell the discomfort. 
  • Wear a splint: A splint will take the pressure off the nerves. You can also wear the splint at night to sleep better and minimize the pain. 
  • Use cold and warm packs: The combination of heat and cold will increase circulation and ease the pain. Ice and heat packs can also mitigate inflammation. 

Prevention Tips

Overall, avoid repetitive activities that can strain the nerves and tissues. When engaging in repetitive tasks, take frequent breaks. 

You should also maintain a healthy weight to minimize pressure on your nerves and joints. Refer to the official BMI index to see which weight category applies to you.

Incorporate flexibility and strength training routines into your workout schedule. Regular exercise will circulate blood flow, make your body more flexible, and strengthen your muscles.

How Long Does a Pinched Nerve Last?

In most cases, a pinched nerve will last only a few days or weeks. This type of pain stems typically derives from stress, routine activities, and injury. Pinched nerve symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling sensations. 

You can treat a pinched nerve by relaxing and stretching. You can also see a physical therapist or doctor for a comprehensive treatment plan.

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