How to know if I have a pinched nerve?

Pinched nerves can be painful. While many cause only temporary issues, there are some that can be more serious and affect you over a longer period of time.

What Are Pinched Nerves?

Pinched nerves, occurring when there is pressure on a nerve, can occur in any part of the body. Most people associate a pinched nerve with back or neck pain, but the pain from a pinched nerve can radiate into your arm, hand, leg, or foot. You can also have pinched nerves in your wrist, ankles, and other parts of the body. Pinched nerves often happen when a nerve is pressed between a bone, tendon, or ligament and tissue. One of the more common occurrences is when there is inflammation on a root nerve that leaves out of the spine. The cause of a pinched nerve is virtually unknown and is truly a case-by-case basis. It could be an injury, caused by pregnancy or an inherited issue. One of the most common ways pinched nerves occur is with repletive motion. Doing the same thing over and over will eventually lead to a pinched nerve.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerves

The most obvious symptom you could have with a pinched nerve is pain. This could be a sharp pain or a radiating pain down your extremities. Pain from a pinched nerve could also come with muscle spasms. This particularly true for pinched nerves in the back. The types of pain you could feel include electric, burning, and a hot/cold sensation. Another symptom of a pinched nerve is a problem using your hands, such as what occurs with carpal tunnel syndrome.

This ailment is commonly associated with pinched nerves in the wrist. Symptoms include a loss of strength and grip, or muscle weakness. You could have a pinched nerve in your elbow if you have numbness, tingling or pain in your ring finger or pinky finger or if you hae pain or stiffness in your forearm. There doesn’t necessarily need to be a pain for there to be a symptom of a pinched nerve. There could just be stiffness.

Identifying your stiff areas helps your doctor pinpoint where the pinched nerve is located. There are other less obvious clues that you may have a pinched nerve. There could be numbness or less sensation in the area that the nerve reaches, such as a finger or foot. You may have tingling, pins and needles sensations or muscle weakness.

A Common Symptom Most Don’t Know About

One of the most common unrecognized symptoms is a hand or foot going numb frequently, commonly called “falling asleep.” If this happens on a routine basis, you could have a pinched nerve. Most say pinched nerve problems tend to occur more frequently during sleep. This could be because you remain in one position for a longer period of time or you may cut off come circulation by the way you lay. Even so, if you wake up regularly with a hand, arm, foot, or leg numb and “asleep,” you could easily have a pinched nerve. It could also be that you wake up with a painful, stiff back or neck. That could also be an indicator of a pinched nerve.


There are several treatment options for a pinched nerve, depending on the severity. The basic treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter treatments
  • Prescription products
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

For many, rest and ice may be all you need to relax your pinched nerve and return to normal.

Preventing Pinched Nerves

There are some things you can do to protect yourself from pinched nerves. The most important thing you can to do prevent pinched nerves is to keep good positions while you sleep. In other words, don’t lay in the same position all night. Implementing some flexibility and strength exercises into your exercise program will also help keep pinched nerves at bay. Also, most recommend breaking up your repeitive routine with frequent breaks and movement. Keeping weight off and maintaining a good weight for you is also a good way to reduce your risk.

Call a Doctor

You should seek out a doctor’s help if the pain doesn’t subside within a couple of days, even with rest, ice and over-the-counter treatment. A doctor will ask questions about your pain and test things like sensation in certain areas, grip, strength and muscle tone. Sometimes, they want an x-ray. You shouldn’t wait because it could get worse later. Ignoring your pain could lead to permanent nerve problems. That has occurred in the most severe cases. If you are tired of your pinched nerve pain and are ready to do something about it, call now to talk to us at 205-637-1363.

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