Pinched Nerve

pinched nerve

The pinched nerve happens when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as tendons, muscles, cartilage, or bones. This pressure is disrupting the nerve’s function, which is causing weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain. The pinched nerve can happen at a number of sites in your body. The herniated disk in your lower spine may put pressure on a nerve root, which is causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg.

Pinched Nerve
Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hands and fingers (this is known as carpal tunnel syndrome). Most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks with rest and other conservative treatments. In some cases, surgery is needed to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. You should maintain a good position in order to prevent the pinched nerve. You should not cross your legs or lie in any one position for a long time. Also, maintaining a healthy weight can increase your chances of a pinched nerve, so you can incorporate strength and flexibility exercises in your regular exercise program. [1]

Pinched Nerve: Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve can include:

  • A frequent feeling that your foot or hand has fallen asleep
  • Muscle weakness in the affected area
  • Tingling, pins and needles sensations (paresthesia)
  • A sharp, aching, or burning pain, which may radiate outward
  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve

Those problems which are related to a pinched nerve may be worse when you are sleeping. If your signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve last for several days and they do not respond to self–care measures, such as over–the–counter pain relievers and rest, then you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.


The pinched nerve is happening when too much pressure (known as compression) is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues. In some cases, this tissue might be cartilage or bone, such as in the case of a herniated spinal disk that compresses a nerve root. In other cases, tendons or muscles may cause the condition.

When someone has carpal tunnel syndrome, then a lot of tissues may be responsible for the compression of the carpal tunnel’s median nerve, such as a thickened and degenerated ligament, enlarged bone that narrows the tunnel, or swollen tendon sheets within the tunnel. [2] There are many different conditions that can cause tissues to compress a nerve or nerves, such as

  • Obesity [1]
  • Hobbies or sports activities [3]
  • Stress from repetitive work
  • Rheumatoid or wrist arthritis
  • Injury [4]

If the nerve is pinched for only a short time, then usually there is no permanent damage. When the pressure is relieved, then the nerve function returns to normal. If the pressure continues, then permanent nerve damage and chronic pain can happen.

Risk factors

There are some factors that can increase your risk of experiencing a pinched nerve:

  • Thyroid disease: People who suffer from thyroid disease have higher chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Inflammation which is caused by rheumatoid arthritis can compress nerves, especially in your joints.
  • A bone spur: A condition or trauma that causes bone thickening, such as osteoarthritis, can lead to bone spurs. It is known that bone spurs can stiffen the spine, as well as narrow space where your nerves travel, pinching nerves.
  • Sex: Women have more chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, possibly due to having smaller carpal tunnels. [5]

Also, there are other factors that can increase your risk of a pinched nerve, such as

  • Prolonged bed rest: When you have long periods of lying down, then this can increase your risk of nerve compression.
  • Pregnancy: Weight gain and water gain associated with pregnancy can swell nerve pathways, compressing your nerves. [6]
  • Obesity: It is noticed that excess weight can add pressure to nerves. [1]
  • Overuse: Hobbies or jobs that require repetitive shoulder, hand, or wrist movements, such as assembly line work, are increasing your chances of a pinched nerve. [3]
  • Diabetes: People, who suffer from diabetes, have increased chances of having a nerve compression. [7]


[1] Hozumi J, Sumitani M, Matsubayashi Y, et al. Relationship between neuropathic pain and obesity. Pain Research and Management. 2016.

[2] Harvard Health Publishing. Don’t delay treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. 2019. Retrieved from

[3] Radic B, Radic P, Durakovic D. Peripheral nerve injury in sports. Acta Clinica Croatica. 2018;57(3):561–9. doi:10.20471/acc.2018.57.03.20

[4] Menorca RMG, Fussell TS, Elfar JC. Peripheral nerve trauma: Mechanisms of injury and recovery. Hand Clinics. 2013;29(3):317–30. doi:10.1016/j.hcl.2013.04.002

[5] National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. Retrieved from

[6] Aroori S, Spence RAJ. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Ulster Medical Journal. 2008;77(1):6–17.

[7] Yahya A, Kluding P, Pasnoor M, et al. The impact of diabetic peripheral neuropathy on pinch proprioception. Experimental Brain Research. 2019;237(12):3165-74. doi:10.1007/s00221-019-05663-3.


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