Under Pressure: What Causes a Pinched Nerve?

Nerves act as sounding alarms for our bodies, sending messages to alert us of damage done. In the case of a pinched nerve, we often feel sharp pain. This pain is the symptom of nerve compression.

What is a Pinched Nerve?

When a nerve is surrounded by too much compression from nearby tissues such as muscles, tendons, cartilage or bones, it becomes pinched from the pressure. Even the simplest of actions can cause a pinched nerve; whether it be lifting something too heavy or bending at the wrong angle. 

It’s normal if this pain is felt at the site of the compression as well as throughout your body as our nerve paths exist in our back, neck, arms and legs. In addition to pain, one may experience numbness, weakness and a tingling sensation as a result of a pinched nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome for example, can be caused by a pinched nerve in the wrist; leading to pain and numbness in your fingers and hand.

Causes of a Pinched Nerve

An injury such as a herniated disk can also cause a pinched nerve to occur by putting excessive pressure on the root of the nerve. Being overweight is another condition that can result in a compressed nerve, as well as bone spurs and repetitive physical movements either from sporting activities or labor intensive tasks. Additionally, inflammation from arthritis can even cause tissue to compress nerves in our joints. 

Treating a Pinched Nerve

While a pinched nerve is usually only felt for a short period of time, it can lead to chronic pain and permanent nerve damage if left untreated. Treatment usually includes rest from the activity thought to have caused the tension in the first place as well as physical therapy to relieve the tightness, and stretch and strengthen your muscles for greater flexibility. Steroid injections can also be utilized to reduce any inflammation near the nerve.

Habits like practicing good posture, not staying in the same position for too long, and taking breaks from repetitive physical activity can reduce your chances of experiencing a pinched nerve and over stressing a specific area of your body. 

Surgery may be required if the pressure on the nerve is not relieved. If you or someone you know is suffering from a pinched nerve, one should seek treatment as soon as possible in order to alleviate any pain and prevent the nerve damage from worsening.

If your pinched nerve symptoms persist, contact Dr. Stacie Grossfeld.  With over 25 years of experience in orthopedic medicine, Dr. Grossfeld has extensive knowledge surrounding musculature. If you are suffering from prolonged pinched nerve symptoms, contact Orthopaedic Specialists today at 502-212-2663.