Pinched nerves are also called compressed nerves. 85 out of every 100,000 Americans are affected by this every year. There’s no particular age range, though people 50 years old and above are more likely to develop them. This is often from degeneration in the spine and arthritis.
When surrounding tissue squeezes on a nerve root, the result is usually pain and numbness in different parts of the body.
What Causes Pinched Nerves?
For the most part, a slipped disk that pokes through the spaces between vertebrae in the spinal cord triggers pinched nerves. Most of them start in the:
- Lower back (lumbar radiculopathy)
- Neck (cervical radiculopathy)
- Upper middle back (thoracic radiculopathy)
Wherever it stems from, multiple areas of a person’s body can be affected by pinched nerves:
- When the cervical spine has a pinched nerve, it can lead to a stiff neck. The consequent numbness and pain can affect both arm and shoulder.
- When the chest area has pain, thoracic radiculopathy is likely the cause. (Of course, severe chest pain should be treated as an urgent matter!)
- When the lower back has a pinched lumbar nerve, the back, buttocks, hips and legs will be painful.
Aside from that, however, pinched nerves can also be triggered in the hand, elbow and wrist. At that point, carpal tunnel syndrome is likely in full swing when it comes to the wrist.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve runs through a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments. When it is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm. This is what leads to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is more likely for people who do repetitive movements.
There are two ways to treat carpal tunnel syndrome: non-surgically or with surgery. Non-surgical treatments are more often used for less severe cases and allow people to go about life without interruption every day. Surgical treatments are self-explanatory and have a much quicker recovery time than the non-surgical route.
Pinched Nerve Symptoms
- Feeling like the foot fell asleep
- Feeling like the hand fell asleep
- Muscle weakness
- Pain (both a dull ache or sharp pains)
- “Pins and needles” (a tingling sensation)
How Can A Pinched Nerve Be Addressed?
It will take four weeks (a month) to six weeks for most pinched nerves to get resolved. Symptoms can often be managed with rest and the use of pain medication, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen. Home treatment doesn’t always work, however. In that case, it’s important to call on a health care professional.
A pinched nerve has to be addressed before it leads to permanent nerve damage or chronic pain.
The pain in a person’s back, neck and arms or legs might be caused by pinched nerves. Chances are high that nerves in a person’s body are compressed by surrounding tissue. That leads to tingling, pain and numbness. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a prime example of this, which happens in the wrist. A good rule of thumb is to consult a medical professional immediately.
Do you need to see a hand specialist? Contact Hand & Wrist Center today! We’re led by experts Dr. Richard D. Curtis and Dr. Jose Baez, committed to providing patients with the best possible care.