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A pinched nerve (nerve entrapment) is a problem that happens when a nerve is squeezed in a tight space in the body. Nerves can get pinched between bones, tendons, or muscles. This often happens because of an injury, overuse, or aging. Pinched nerves can be painful.
The cause depends on what nerve is affected. Muscles, bones, tendons, or scar tissue can squeeze nerves. So can swelling, tight shoes or equipment, or an injury. Pinched nerves are also more likely to happen with overuse, staying in one position too long, or having conditions like arthritis.
The symptoms of a pinched nerve may include pain, tingling or numbness, or weakness. They may be felt in the area of the body served by the nerve. The symptoms can get worse when you move in certain ways.
Your doctor will do a physical examination. Depending on where you have symptoms, the examination will include watching how you move, checking your reflexes to see how your nerves are working, and checking for muscle weakness.
Your doctor may order tests, such as:
Treatment for a pinched nerve depends on which nerve is affected. Treatment can include rest, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medicines. It can also include steroid shots and sometimes surgery. Other treatment may include wearing a brace, orthotics, or other types of support for the area.
Current as of: August 25, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Steven J. Atlas MD, MPH - Internal Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey MD - Family Medicine
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