Skip to content

    Pain Management Health Center

    Select An Article

    Pinched (Compressed) Nerve

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Nerves extend from your brain and spinal cord, sending important messages throughout your body. If you have a pinched nerve (nerve compression) your body may send you warning signals such as pain. Don't ignore these warning signals.

    Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe. It may cause temporary or long-lasting problems. The earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment for nerve compression, the more quickly you'll find relief.

    Recommended Related to Pain Management

    Hip Pain: Causes and Treatment

    The hip joint is designed to withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear. This ball-and-socket joint -- the body's largest -- fits together in a way that allows for fluid movement. Whenever you use the hip (for example, by going for a run), a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction as the hip bone moves in its socket. Despite its durability, the hip joint isn't indestructible. With age and use, the cartilage can wear down or become damaged. Muscles and tendons in the...

    Read the Hip Pain: Causes and Treatment article > >

    In some cases, you can't reverse the damage from a pinched nerve. But treatment usually relieves pain and other symptoms.

    Causes of Pinched Nerves

    A pinched nerve occurs when there is "compression" (pressure) on a nerve.

    The pressure may be the result of repetitive motions. Or it may happen from holding your body in one position for long periods, such as keeping elbows bent while sleeping.

    Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as:

    • Ligament
    • Tendon
    • Bone

    For example, inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm (cervical radiculopathy). Or pain may radiate into the leg and foot (lumbar radiculopathy or sciatic nerve pain).

    These symptoms may result from changes that develop in the spine's discs and bones. For example, if a disc weakens or tears -- known as a herniated disc -- pressure can get put on a spinal nerve.

    Nerve compression in your neck or arm may also cause symptoms in areas such as your:

    • Elbow
    • Hand
    • Wrist
    • Fingers

    This can lead to conditions such as:

    If nerve compression lasts a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve may break down. Fluid may build up, which may cause:

    • Swelling
    • Extra pressure
    • Scarring

    The scarring may interfere with the nerve's function.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    illustration of nerves in hand
    Slideshow
    lumbar spine
    Slideshow
     
    Woman opening window
    Slideshow
    Man holding handful of pills
    Video
     
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Slideshow
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    Slideshow
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Slideshow
    man with a migraine
    Slideshow