Pinched Nerve

  • Medical Author:
    Danette C. Taylor, DO, MS, FACN

    Dr. Taylor has a passion for treating patients as individuals. In practice since 1994, she has a wide range of experience in treating patients with many types of movement disorders and dementias. In addition to patient care, she is actively involved in the training of residents and medical students, and has been both primary and secondary investigator in numerous research studies through the years. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (Department of Neurology and Ophthalmology). She graduated with a BS degree from Alma College, and an MS (biomechanics) from Michigan State University. She received her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her internship and residency were completed at Botsford General Hospital. Additionally, she completed a fellowship in movement disorders with Dr. Peter LeWitt. She has been named a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychiatrists. She is board-certified in neurology by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. She has authored several articles and lectured extensively; she continues to write questions for two national medical boards. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Council (MSAC) of the Alzheimer's Association of Michigan, and is a reviewer for the journal Clinical Neuropharmacology.

  • Medical Editor: Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Surprising Reasons You're in Pain Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideNerve Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Nerve Pain: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

What are the signs and symptoms of a pinched nerve?

The most common symptom of a pinched nerve is a tingling sensation, which can be accompanied by some numbness. This may initially come and go, but over time becomes persistent. Pain may accompany the tingling sensation and is often described as being "sharp" or "electrical." Some patients experience a burning sensation in the affected area.

In severe cases, muscle weakness may occur because the nerve that controls the muscle has been irritated. If present and not identified and corrected, those muscles may decrease in size and function.

Common areas where nerves are pinched include the following:

  • carpal tunnel (where the median nerve at the wrist is injured)
  • ulnar nerve at the elbow (frequently caused by leaning on elbows while sitting or driving)
  • lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (This is also known as meralgia paresthetica, caused by compression of the sensory nerve leading to the upper thigh. This may also be seen in pregnancy, when the enlarging uterus can also cause nerve compression.)
  • common peroneal nerve injury (associated with crossing the legs at the knee)
  • sciatic nerve problems or sciatica, pain which travels from the low back into the leg (This is frequently used to label the symptoms associated with a pinched nerve in the low back or lumbar spine. Patients with this condition describe pain which travels from the back into a leg or hip.)
  • cervical spine (A pinched nerve in the neck can cause pain or tingling to travel into the arm or shoulder blade region.)

Of note, although tennis elbow is a painful condition often associated with repetitive activities, the pain is caused by inflammation of the tendons of the elbow, not a pinched nerve. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/30/2015
References
Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

REFERENCES:

"NINDS Pinched Nerve Information Page." National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 27 Sept. 2011.

Vinik, A., et al. "Focal entrapment neuropathies in diabetes." Diabetes Care 27.7 (2004): 1783-1788.

Werner, R. A., et al. "Influence of body mass index and work activity on the prevalence of median mononeuropathy at the wrist." Occupational and Environmental Medicine 54.4 (1997): 268-271.



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