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Trapped Nerve Symptoms

Trapped Nerve Symptoms

Have you ever felt a sharp pain in the neck or back while getting up from the bed? It could be a symptom of a trapped nerve. This article provides some information about this condition.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The brain is the main control center of the body. The nervous system is the network which delivers messages from the brain to the different parts of the body and vice versa. Signals that are sent from the brain, through the nerves, to different locations, are responsible for controlling various functions of the body. Damage or injury to the nerves can cause misinterpretation of these signals which can be hazardous.

What is a Trapped Nerve?

Otherwise known as pinched nerve, a trapped nerve refers to a condition in which a peripheral nerve gets compressed. A peripheral nerve is the one that is located outside the brain and spinal cord. Such compression is generally caused by pressure applied to the nerve by the surrounding soft tissues. Tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles are the soft tissues responsible for this condition. So the pressure exerted by the surrounding soft tissues makes it difficult for the nerve to retain its original position, and this prevents it from performing its normal functions. The pressure may irritate the nerve and its protective covering, which may sustain damage or injury, thereby leading to inflammation. A trapped nerve can occur anywhere in the body, but areas like the neck and back are more prone to this condition.

Signs of a Trapped Nerve
  • Lack of sensation
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Pins or needles
  • Sharp, radiating pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning sensation
These are some of the common symptoms of a trapped nerve. However, the nature of the symptoms depends on factors like the location and severity of compression.

Neck: Compression of the brachial plexus in the neck can result in trapped nerves. Such a nerve compression in the neck often leads to symptoms in the shoulders and arms. The symptoms include pain in the neck, numbness or tingling in the arms and shoulders, weakness, sweating, etc.

Back: When a nerve coming out of the spinal cord gets compressed or pinched in the back, symptoms like sharp pain down the leg, pain in the lower back, and numbness of the leg and feet may develop.

Shoulder: A trapped or pinched nerve in the shoulder may be caused by a number of reasons. In case of a severe compression that blocks blood flow, symptoms like loss of sensation in the arm or fingertips may develop. Other symptoms include numbness in the fingertips, reduced flexibility of the arm, stiffness in the shoulder, strain in bicep muscles, etc.

Leg: Usually, compressed or pinched nerves in the neck or the lower back are responsible for symptoms in the legs. The nerves from these locations run down the hip to the legs. If such a nerve gets trapped, symptoms may develop in the legs and feet. Numbness in the feet and toes are common in such cases.

A pinched nerve can be caused by various factors like injury, repetitive motions, poor posture, obesity, disc herniation, etc. Treatment for the condition is decided on the basis of the underlying cause, location, and severity of compression. While rest may relieve the symptoms in some cases, exercises and physiotherapy are recommended for some people. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be prescribed. Surgery is often recommended in case of repeated attacks with persistent symptoms.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.