A pinched nerve happens when a nerve is compressed or squeezed. This often takes place because of surrounding tissues like muscles, tendons, or bones pressing against the nerve. The pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness. A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in your body but is commonly found in the neck, back, or wrists.
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Symptoms of Pinched Nerves
Here are eight symptoms you might experience and the causes behind them.
1. Sharp or Burning Pain
You might feel a sharp or burning pain in the area where the nerve is pinched. This pain might even travel along the path of the nerve. The cause of this pain is often a herniated disk in the spine or arthritis in the joints. Both these conditions can put pressure on the nerve.
2. Tingling or “Pins and Needles” Sensation
This sensation is like having little prickly pins poking you. You might feel it in your fingers, hands, or feet. Tingling often happens when a nerve in your wrist (like in carpal tunnel syndrome) or in your legs (from a condition called sciatica) is pinched.
You might notice that a certain part of your body feels numb or lacks normal sensation. Numbness is usually due to prolonged pressure on a nerve, which might happen if you sit or sleep in an awkward position.
4. Muscle Weakness
Muscles connected to the pinched nerve might feel weak. This can make it hard to grip things or make other movements. In most cases, this weakness is often linked to conditions like cervical radiculopathy, where a nerve root in the neck is pinched.
5. Frequent Feeling that a Foot or Hand has “Fallen Asleep”
You may frequently feel like your foot or hand has “fallen asleep” and is difficult to move. This sensation can result from a pinched nerve in the neck or lower back, affecting the signals to your limbs.
6. Decreased Range of Motion
You may find it harder to move a joint or muscle in a normal way. Arthritis or other joint issues might pinch a nearby nerve, limiting your ability to move.
7. Redness, Swelling, and Inflammation
Redness, swelling, and inflammation might appear around the affected area. Injury or strain to muscles or tendons can cause inflammation, which might press against a nerve.
8. Sensitivity to Touch
Even a light touch might feel painful or uncomfortable in the area where the nerve is pinched. According to experts, this sensitivity might be due to ongoing irritation or damage to the nerve.
Causes of Pinched Nerves
Overuse or Strain
Using a part of your body too much or in the wrong way can cause tissues to press against a nerve. This might happen if you play a sport or do a job that requires repetitive movements.
An injury like a fall or car accident might cause a bone or other tissue to press against a nerve.
Carrying extra weight can put pressure on your nerves, and this might cause them to become pinched.
Sitting or standing in a way that isn’t good for your body might cause a pinched nerve. Being mindful of your posture can help prevent this.
During pregnancy, your body changes in ways that might cause a pinched nerve. Extra weight and swelling are common during pregnancy, and they might press against a nerve.
A herniated disc in your spine might press against a nerve. This can be painful and might need medical treatment.
Bone spurs are small growths on your bones that might press against a nerve. This can be a cause of a pinched nerve, especially in your spine.
When to See a Doctor
Pinched nerves might sound scary, but they’re usually not too serious. However, it’s still good to know when you should see a doctor about them.
If Symptoms Don’t Go Away
If you’ve tried resting the affected area and your symptoms don’t get better after a few days, it might be time to see a doctor. They can help figure out what’s going on and how to treat it.
If Pain Gets Worse
Pain from a pinched nerve might start off mild, but if it gets worse or becomes severe, you should see a doctor. Severe pain might be a sign that something more serious is happening.
If You Notice Weakness
Weakness in your muscles could be a sign of a more serious pinched nerve. If you notice that you’re having trouble moving or using a part of your body, a doctor can check it out.
If You Have Other Health Conditions
If you already have a health condition like diabetes or arthritis, a pinched nerve might be more serious for you. You should see a doctor if you have any symptoms, as they’ll know how to treat it in a way that’s safe for you.
If You’re Pregnant
Pregnancy can make a pinched nerve more complicated. If you’re pregnant and you think you have a pinched nerve, you should see a doctor right away. They can help make sure both you and your baby are safe.
If You Have a History of Spinal Problems
If you’ve had problems with your spine before, a pinched nerve might be more severe for you. Seeing a doctor can help make sure that you get the right treatment.
If You’re Worried
Finally, if you’re worried about your symptoms or you’re not sure what’s going on, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor. They can answer your questions and help you feel better. Even if it turns out to be nothing serious, getting checked out can give you peace of mind.