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Pinched Nerve


Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues such as bone spurs, disc herniation and ligaments. This pressure (compression) disrupts the nerve’s function – causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness in the affected area, and in many cases causing permanent damage.

A pinched nerve can occur anywhere in your body. For example, a herniated disk in your spine (neck, thoracic or lumbar) may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg (sciatica), or down your arms or hands. Another common type of pinched nerve is the median nerve in the carpal tunnel in your wrist; compression of that nerve can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome). These are just two common examples of pinched nerves; many other nerves can be pinched including those in your neck, shoulder, elbow and other areas.


  • Numbness or decreased sensation in the area supplied by the nerve.
  • Sharp or burning pain, which may radiate outward. When the pinched nerve comes from the spinal cord, coughing or sneezing may aggravate the pain.
  • Tingling, “pins and needles” sensations (paresthesia).
  • Muscle weakness or twitching in the affected area.
  • Frequent feeling that a foot or hand has “fallen asleep.”


With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. In some cases, however, surgery is necessary.

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