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Pinched Nerve in the Arm: Causes and Remedies

A pinched nerve may cause great discomfort and hinder a person's routine. Here, we will discuss the condition of pinched nerve in arm.
Rajib Singha Nov 22, 2018
A pinched nerve (compressed nerve) is a nerve or a set of nerves that gets compressed by too much pressure exerted by surrounding tissues such as ligaments, tendons or bones. The condition may be mildly to extremely painful, and may lead to short-term or long-term complications.
In most cases, you can relieve a pinched nerve with rest and conservative treatment methods. However, sometimes, the condition may be severe and may require a surgery.

What a Pinched Nerve in Arm Feels Like

What mainly indicates a compressed nerve in your arm or elsewhere in the body, is a sharp or burning pain. This pain usually tends to radiate outward. This pain may or may not be accompanied by:
☛ A decreased sensation in the area where the nerve is pinched; numbness, in short

☛ A feeling similar to one caused by pricking the skin with pins or needles. It is also called paresthesia

☛ Tingling sensation

☛ Muscle weakness or twitching of muscles

 ☛ Tenderness in the affected area
Sometimes, if you have a compressed nerve, all you may experience is pain. In some cases, however, you may show all the above symptoms, except the pain.

How to Relieve a Pinched Nerve

The primary treatment plan to manage a pinched nerve in arm or anywhere in the body, includes rest, physical therapy, and medicines. Surgery is usually a last resort.


Your doctor will advise you to rest the affected area; in this case, your arm. Physical activities may cause additional damage to the affected nerve, and aggravate the condition. 
You may have to wear a splint at all times. This is to keep your affected arm immobilized in order to reduce any movement that might worsen the condition.

OTC Drugs

To manage pain caused by a pinched nerve or any inflammation that may accompany it, you may take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If the pain is severe, then your doctor may give you prescription-strength NSAIDs. Other medicines that may be included in the treatment include corticosteroids (oral and injections), and narcotics.

Physical Therapy

You can get substantial relief from your compressed nerve with the help of physical therapy. It includes strengthening and stretching exercises which work to reduce pressure from the affected nerve.
It is important that you seek advice from a qualified physical therapist, as any wrongly done exercise may do more harm than good, and delay the recovery period.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy also helps relieve the symptoms of a pinched nerve. It helps numb the pain and reduce swelling, if any. Never apply ice or a cold pack directly to the skin. Instead, wrap the same with a towel before using it. Apply a cold compress for no more than 20 minutes. Some people may find relief by using a hot compress, as well.

Avoid Inactivity

Though rest is necessary, complete inactivity is harmful. Try to keep the rest of your body active with aerobic exercises. Walking for 30 minutes a day is beneficial. Regular exercise encourages blood circulation and speed up recovery of most ailments.


You can also consider chiropractic care for dealing with the condition. Chiropractic not only addresses the affected area, but it also helps trace the source of the problem.


You may have to wait for a few months before you see any improvement in your condition. However, if your doctor feels that your condition is not responding to conservative treatment, then you will be recommended to undergo a surgery. 
The surgery will involve getting rid of the substance that is compressing the nerve. Post surgery, you may still require physical therapy to rebuild strength and flexibility of your affected arm.
Usually, repeated activities, poor posture (for instance, keeping elbows bent while sleeping, or sleeping over an arm, or keeping an arm in an awkward position for prolonged periods), lifting heavy objects, injuries, etc. are responsible for a pinched nerve in arm.
So, avoiding such factors may help prevent the condition. Furthermore, inculcating strength and flexibility exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking frequent breaks from repetitive motions, also help prevent such problems.
Disclaimer: The information is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.