When there is too much pressure applied on a nerve, its function may be disrupted, causing pain, weakness, or numbness. This condition is called pinched nerve.
A pinched nerve can occur at almost any place in our body. What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve? We may have a pinched nerve if we experience the following signs and symptoms:
• Numbness, reduced sensation or a partial loss of sensitivity in one area affected by the nerve
• A sharp, burning pain extending outward
• A sensation of burning, itching, or pricking of the skin without an obvious cause
• Muscle weakness and fatigue
• Loss of control over a hand or a leg
If you have one or more of these signs, pay attention to them. If they last for several days and do not respond to rest and over-the-counter painkillers, seek medical help.
Causes of a pinched nerve
In general, a pinched nerve occurs when a nerve’s surrounding tissue puts too much pressure on it. Many conditions can cause tissue to put pressure on a nerve, including:
• Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
• Occupational stress
• Sports activities
There is no need to worry if the nerve has been pinched for a short period of time. The nerve will get back to normal as soon as the stress is relieved. However, not treating it may cause chronic pain and permanent nerve damage.
Treatment for a pinched nerve
In most cases of a pinched nerve, the doctor will recommend to rest the affected area. The sufferer will need to avoid physical activities that may worsen their condition. Treatment options include:
Physical therapy to strengthen and stretch the muscles around the affected area, thus relieving the pressure on the nerve.
Medication to ease the pain caused by the pinched nerve may be prescribed. Those include Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin IB) or naproxen sodium (Aleve). Corticosteroid injections may also help with the pain and inflammation.
If the pinched nerve does not respond to therapy and medication after a few months, surgery may be needed to correct the nerve. Depending on the exact location of the affected nerve, the doctor will recommend a suitable type of surgery.
Surgery may require the removal of certain parts of the surrounding bone, ligament, or cartilage to make room for the nerve.
Tips to prevent pinched nerve
• Maintain good posture. Avoid crossing your legs or staying in one position for too long.
• Exercise regularly. Don’t forget strength and flexibility exercises.
• Limit repetitive activities. If you have to engage in these activities due to professional duties, take frequent breaks.
• Keep a healthy weight.
This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.