Pinched Nerve - Symptoms

What do your pinched nerve symptoms feel like? Pain, tingling, numbness, or something else?

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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.

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