Do you feel numbness and radiating pain in your neck, back, or arms? You may be experiencing symptoms of a pinched nerve.
About 85 out of 100,000 adults in the United States experience pinched nerves annually. People of any age may suffer from the condition, but it’s much more common among older adults due to age-related issues, such as arthritis and bone degeneration.
What causes pinched nerves?
Pinched nerves may affect the neck, back, shoulder, hand, elbow, or wrist. This condition is also known as compressed nerves and is related to sciatica, where the nerves in the lower back are irritated, inflamed, or compressed.
It results from too much pressure applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, tendons, muscles, cartilage, and even bones. The following may cause nerve compression:
- Sudden injury from strenuous physical activity
- Prolonged inactivity
- Pre-existing conditions (e.g., arthritis, bone degeneration)
- Repetitive movements (e.g., typing, lifting heavy objects)
Obesity may also be another cause, as extra weight puts pressure on the nerves. Pregnancy also adds additional weight to a pregnant woman’s body and compresses the nerves.
With some rest and chiropractic treatment, pinched nerves may go away naturally. But it’s important to watch out for the common symptoms of pinched nerves to ensure the condition does not lead to something more serious.
8 Common Symptoms of Pinched Nerves
Pins and Needles
Pins and needles are an uncomfortable tingling sensation typically felt in the legs, arms, hands, and feet. It’s one of the most common symptoms of a pinched nerve.
Many describe the feeling as having a hand or foot “fall asleep.” The tingling feeling goes away quickly when the affected limb is moved, and adequate blood flow returns as the pressure on the nerve is released.
Burning Pain Radiating Outward
A person with a pinched nerve may experience a burning feeling radiating outward from the affected area.
For example, if the pinched nerve is on the neck, the sharp, burning feeling may also be felt on the shoulder and arm, causing pain and discomfort.
A pinched nerve on the cervical spine may result in a stiff neck. For older adults, a pinched nerve on the neck area may be due to natural “wear and tear” of the spine from aging.
For younger individuals, it may often be because of an injury. Chiropractors teach corrective exercises like trap stretches or a chin tuck to relieve the pinched nerve in the neck.
Pinched nerves usually cause numbness in the affected area and surrounding body parts.
For example, a compressed nerve in the neck area may dull sensation in the shoulders, arms, and fingers. Meanwhile, a pinched nerve in the lower back can cause numbness in the buttocks and legs.
Muscle weakness is another common symptom of pinched nerves. Motor nerves are partly responsible for voluntary movements, so if this nerve is pinched, it results in weakness and compromises motor function.
For this reason, you may experience difficulty walking if the affected area is the foot or legs or difficulty gripping objects if the affected area is the hand or arm.
A stinger feels like an electric shock that runs up the arm, shoulder, and neck, indicating a pinched nerve.
This happens when the nerves in the neck and shoulder are suddenly overstretched or when the head is forced sideways.
In some cases, pinched nerves may cause fatigue as the muscles of affected areas feel heavy when in use. The muscle pain, as well as muscle tightness, may drain your energy.
What to Do When You Have a Pinched Nerve
The best treatment for pinched nerves depends on the condition’s severity and the affected area’s location.
For some people, the symptoms of pinched nerve improve quickly, typically in a matter of hours. For others, If your condition is less serious, here are some home treatments for pinched nerves:
- Adjust your posture
- Use ergonomic equipment, like a standing work desk or an ergonomic chair
- Take regular stretch breaks throughout the day
- If you are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist splint may help ease the pain
- Ice or heat packs may also relieve pain and relax the muscles in the affected area
- If the pinched nerve occurs on your lower back, elevate your legs
Of course, the best cure is always prevention. Here are some easy ways you can avoid pinched nerves and their symptoms:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Maintaining good posture
- Exercising daily and stretching frequently
- Minimizing strenuous physical activities
Can a Chiropractor Help Treat a Pinched Nerve?
If home treatments are not working for you, it’s best to consider chiropractic care to deal with alignment issues and compressed nerves.
A chiropractor may help you relieve nerve pain and any discomfort associated with pinched nerves by identifying the affected nerve and performing soft tissue work and adjustments.
Relieve pain caused by a pinched nerve with the help of experienced chiropractors. Consult LifeClinic today for more information.