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Pinched Nerve Symptoms and Diagnosis

OLSS provides a wide range of treatment options and because our doctors are the most experienced and best trained in treating a pinched nerve we are able to perform many advanced treatments other practices are unable to offer. The real question is: What treatment is best to treat your pinched nerve? Use our Treatment Match tool to quickly get started in finding the right treatment for you.

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Pinched Nerve A pinched nerve is a condition that occurs when surrounding tissue or structures compress the nerve and reduces its ability to function properly. Do I have this Condition? What is the Right Treatment for Me?

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles.

5 Signs of a Pinched Nerve You Shouldn’t Ignore

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Pain Neck. E-mail Address. First Name Optional. The perception of pain varies with each individual; terms such as stabbing, prickling, burning, tingling, and other descriptions have been used. Anything which increases pressure around a nerve can cause a pinched nerve. Common causes include body position such as leaning on elbows, habitually crossing legs, or poor posture.

Over time this may lead to pressure injury to nerves in these regions.

Pinched Nerve Information Page

Pressure on a peripheral nerve can irritate the nerve itself, its protective covering myelin sheath , or both. When this occurs, the nerve is unable to conduct sensory impulses to the brain appropriately, leading to a sense of numbness. This inflammation associated with the damage or injury can also cause pain or paresthesia a tingling or prickling sensation signals to be sent to the brain. In its early stages, many people may describe this sensation as a body part that has "fallen asleep.

If the nerve is compressed for a short amount of time, it is often able to repair itself but it may take several weeks or months for the symptoms to fully resolve. However, if the compression remains present for a long time, permanent nerve injury may occur. The most common pinched nerve symptom is a tingling sensation, which can be accompanied by some numbness.

Treating a pinched nerve - Harvard Health

This may initially come and go, but over time becomes persistent. Pain may accompany the tingling sensation and is often described as being "sharp" or "electrical.

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In severe cases, muscle weakness may occur because the nerve that controls the muscle has been irritated. If present and not identified and corrected, those muscles may decrease in size and function. Of note, although tennis elbow is a painful condition often associated with repetitive activities, the pain is caused by inflammation of the tendons of the elbow, not a pinched nerve. The health care professional often makes the diagnosis of pinched nerve by taking a history of symptoms and performing a careful physical examination. Depending on the findings, the diagnosis may be made clinically or further testing may be required. Electromyography EMG is a nerve conduction study to help confirm the diagnosis of a pinched nerve and to determine the extent of nerve damage. If the pinched nerve is in the neck cervical spine or back lumbar spine , an MRI or CT scan may be considered to make the diagnosis and look for the cause herniated disc, arthritis, or fracture.

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The treatment of a pinched nerve depends upon the location and the cause. Resting the affected area is often very effective, especially in cases of injury caused by repetitive activities. Physical therapy is frequently beneficial when a pinched spinal nerve is caused by problems in the neck or low back. Exercises may strengthen the back or core muscles and decrease or eliminate pressure on a nerve root. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen may be helpful. Injections of corticosteroids an anti-inflammatory medication may also be beneficial for many types of pinched nerves.

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For cases of carpal tunnel syndrome , splinting or bracing the wrist is often used. In cases of ulnar neuropathy or common peroneal neuropathy, learning to change body positions may be required to achieve the best outcome. Weight loss can be of benefit for many types of pinched nerves. Surgery may be required to release pressure on the nerve if it fails to respond to medication, splinting, physical therapy, or injections.

The specific type of surgery depends upon the nerve involved. However, the goal of the surgery is the same, to eliminate or relieve the pressure on the affected nerve. In many cases, once a pinched nerve has been identified, the symptoms can be resolved when treatment allows the nerve to recover.