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Signs You May Have a Pinched Nerve

Nerves carry electrochemical signals back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body. There are two kinds: motor nerves and sensory nerves. Motor nerves are pathways that are used for signals from the brain to the rest of the body; these signals include the command to muscles to contract. Sensory nerves are used to send signals from the body to the brain; these nerves are responsible for sensations like taste, touch and smell. When a nerve is pinched, the ability to carry the signals is hindered.

Causes of Pinched Nerves The common causes include:

  • Arthritis – This condition can cause inflammation in joints all over the body resulting in pinched nerves.
  • Bone spurs – These are bony projections that form on the spine. A person can have bone spurs for years with no symptoms, but they can also cause pinched nerves in some cases.
  • Herniated discs – This is when the cushions (called “discs”) between the vertebrae rupture. The leaking disc can cause a pinched nerve.
  • Spinal stenosis – This is a condition where the spinal canal narrows and compresses the nerves.

Pinched nerves can occur in many parts of the body, particularly where nerves have little protection or where they are pressed between other tissues such as ligament or bone. The most vulnerable areas include:

  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Lower back
  • Shoulders
  • Symptoms of Pinched Nerves

Pinched Nerve in the Elbow or Wrist This may be caused by carpal tunnel syndrome where the median nerve is restricted. Pinched nerves in the wrist occurs most frequently in diabetes sufferers and in those who spend a lot of time working at keyboards. In the elbow, it may be the result of tennis elbow. In both cases, the symptoms may be numbness, tingling or weakness in the hand or in the whole arm.

Pinched Nerve in the Spine
When nerves are pinched in the spine, this often results in sciatica, which is irritation of the sciatic nerve. In this case, patients may suffer from a pain that moves from the lower back into a hip or one of their legs. The sciatic nerve is the body’s largest nerve with nerve endings that extend into the lower limbs.

Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Pinched nerves in the shoulders can result in numbness and pain in the shoulders and arms as well as difficulty coordinating the actions of the muscles. An individual with a pinched nerve in the shoulder may also feel tingling pin and needle sensations in their arms.

In many cases, all that is needed to effectively treat a pinched nerve is rest; it often gets better over time without any steps being taken. Exercise may also be used for strengthening back muscles and reducing pressure on the nerve root. Anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful in relieving inflammation around the nerve and in easing the pain. In more severe cases that do not respond to other forms of treatment, surgery may be necessary. As with the other treatments, the point of the surgery will be to reduce pressure on the pinched nerve.

Contact us and a location nearest you and ask any questions you may have and we will be more than happy to help try and ease your pain!


Premier Orthopaedics is the largest orthopaedic group in Delaware and Chester counties. Premier provides patients with the full spectrum of orthopaedic services; including bone, muscle and joint care. Patients trust our specialists for their experience, expertise and commitment to exceptional patient care.