Many different things can cause a pinched nerve. Some of the most common areas to have a pinched nerve are your wrist, your forearm, your ankle, and in your spine.
The best treatments for each of these areas will vary. But they will all involve relieving the pain by removing what ever is pinching the nerve or nerves.
All of the nerves that control sensation and movement in your hand, along with the tendons that control your fingers, pass through a small space in your wrist called the carpal tunnel.
Whenever there is any swelling or inflammation within the carpal tunnel it can cause a compression of the nerves going to your hand.
Due to Injury or Overuse
This can occur because of an injury to your hand or wrist or from overuse such as typing or other activities that involve a lot of finger motion.
The most common symptom of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pain in your hand and fingers.
Pain, Numbness, Tingling, Weakness
You may also have numbness, tingling or weakness. If you compare your hands you may notice atrophy and muscle wasting in my hand with carpal tunnel syndrome.
The median nerve can be pinched
within the carpal tunnel.
Image thanks to Blausen gallery 2014
Wikiversity Journal of Medicine
The Ulnar nerve travels from your shoulder down to your elbow and wrist and into the side of your hand where your ring and little fingers are located. It controls sensation and muscle movement in that side of your hand and in those two fingers.
Pinched Between the Muscles
Where it passes through the muscles of your forearm it can sometimes get trapped or compressed between those muscles. This can cause an aching pain in your forearm that may radiate up to your elbow and shoulder or down into your hand.
Similar to the other pinched nerve symptoms; you may also notice numbness and tingling or weakness in the areas that nerve serves.
Similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in your wrist, Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by compression of the posterior tibial nerve where it passes through the ankle. An injury to your ankle or changes in activity can lead to swelling in the Tarsal Tunnel causing compression or pinching of the nerve.
This can cause burning aching pain on inside of your ankle. It may radiate down into your foot or up into your lower leg.
Just like with other pinched nerves there may also be numbness and tingling or weakness in the area of that nerve distribution.
Your spinal cord comes out of your brain and passes down through the spinal canal that runs from the top of your neck to the bottom of your spine.
Between each pair of vertebra, nerve roots from the spinal cord come out of the spinal canal and go to whatever area of your body that nerve serves.
Your spine is a very complicated piece of machinery and there are many places where a nerve can be pinched.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing
of the space for the nerves in your spine.
This can occur in your neck (cervical spine), your upper back (thoracic spine), and your low back (lumbar spine).
When you have lumbar spinal stenosis it can cause the pain of sciatica. Sciatica pain will start in your buttock and radiate down into the back of your thigh.
When your symptoms are severe the pain may radiate down into your lower leg, foot, and toes as well.
MRI image demonstrates where
the nerves are being pinched.
Image thanks to A.E.Francis, via Wikimedia Commons
A pinched nerve in your lumbar spine can also cause muscle weakness in your legs.
If only certain muscle groups have a little weakness you may experience imbalance, you may begin tripping or falling and not know why, or you may notice that you are constantly dragging one foot or the other.
If the nerves that control your bowels and bladder are affected you may have incontinence or be unable to have a bowel movement or empty your bladder.
Thoracic Stenosis is not Common
Stenosis is less common in your thoracic spine. When it does develop, it will most commonly cause pain that radiates around your rib cage or onto your flank.
Cervical spinal stenosis can cause pain and weakness radiating into your arms and hands. It may begin with only numbness or tingling and progress over time to cause more severe symptoms.
Minor weakness in only certain muscle groups or a slight numbness in your fingers may not be noticed at all. But you may find that you begin dropping things, or you may start having trouble handling small objects like money, or the buttons on a shirt.
A pinched nerve can cause many different kinds of symptoms in a variety of areas. However, pain is what people really notice.
Pain is usually what forces people to seek treatment. If you are having pain or other symptoms that are fairly tolerable and do not limit your activity you are probably safe trying some in home treatments for your pain.
If Your Symptoms are Severe
If your pain and other symptoms are severe and prevent normal activity you need to be seen by your doctor.
Ignoring the pain in other symptoms of a pinched nerve can lead to permanent injury and permanent impairment. So, if your symptoms are severe see your doctor today.