A pinched nerve — also called nerve compression — happens when surrounding tissues place too much pressure on the nerve.
Nerves are tiny fibers that carry messages from our brains throughout our bodies, and back to our brains.
When nerves pass through very small spaces — such as our joints — it's easier for them to become compressed, or pinched. This means that they have too much pressure on them.
A compressed or pinched nerve can occur between tissues such as:
Some common places to have compressed nerves are in your:
Nerve compression and pinched nerve causes include:
Diabetes puts you at a high risk for getting compressed nerves.
If you think you have a pinched nerve, it's important to see a doctor. Untreated nerve compression can cause permanent damage.
Request an appointment with a UPMC orthopaedic surgeon:
Pinched nerve (nerve compression) symptoms include:
If you have nerve compression in your wrist, you might feel some numbness or tingling in your hand.
A pinched nerve in your shoulder might cause pain that travels to your back or down your arm.
To find out if you have a pinched or compressed nerve, your doctor will take your medical history and perform an exam.
During your exam, the doctor may move your affected limbs in certain ways, or even press on the joints.
Your doctor may also order a nerve conduction study — called an electromyogram — to confirm the diagnosis.
Nerve conduction studies use weak electrical stimulation to measure whether the nerve is able to carry signals to and from the brain.
From our Health Library:
The first goal of nerve compression treatment is to reduce your pain and any swelling associated with the compression.
The long-term goal is to reduce the chances that your pinched nerve will cause muscle weakness or even loss of use of the muscle.
Doctors at UPMC Orthopaedic Care may:
In more severe cases, doctors may use nerve compression surgery as a last resort for treating your pinched nerve.
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