A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a nerve. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.
Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and bones.
- Sciatica a radiating, aching pain, sometimes with tingling and numbness, that starts in the buttock and extends down the back of one leg.
- Pain in the area of compression, such as the neck or low back
- “Pins and needles” or a burning sensation
Physical therapy and anti-inflammatories will typically be the first round of treatment. If symptoms persist then steroid injection may be prescribed. If the pinched nerve doesn’t improve after several weeks to a few months with conservative treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery to take pressure off the nerve. The type of surgery varies depending on the location of the pinched nerve. Surgery may entail removing bone spurs or a part of a herniated disk in the spine, for example, or severing the carpal ligament to allow more room for the nerve to pass through the wrist.