What Are The Most Common Pinched Nerves?

by | May 7, 2024 | Blog

What Are The Names Of The Most Common Pinched Nerves?

A pinched nerve occurs when a nerve is compressed or irritated by surrounding structures in the body, such as bones, cartilage, muscles, or tendons. This leads to symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the area of the nerve.

Pinched nerves can occur in various parts of the body, and the names of the most common pinched nerves typically correspond to the location of the nerve. Many patients suffer from cervical radiculopathy which are pinched nerves in the neck. Your back can also have pinched nerves called thoracic radiculopathy if they are in the upper to middle back, and lumbar radiculopathy if it is located in the lower back. Common pinched nerves in the arms, wrist and hands are typically carpal tunnel syndrome. Also, sciatica is a common pinched nerve condition affecting the hips, legs, and buttocks.

Common Locations of Pinched Nerves

The most common types of pinched nerves include:

  • Neck and Shoulders (Cervical Radiculopathy)
    Cervical radiculopathy refers to the compression of a nerve root in the neck area called the cervical spine.
  • Back and Upper Chest (Thoracic and Lumbar Radiculopathy)
    Thoracic and lumbar radiculopathy refer to the compression or irritation of nerve roots in the thoracic (upper back) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine, which radiate into surrounding areas of the body like your chest, or down a leg.
  • Wrist and Hand (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
    Carpal tunnel syndrome is primarily caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, causing symptoms primarily in your thumb, index and middle fingers, with some nerve symptoms in your ring finger.
  • Other Susceptible Areas
    Other common pinched nerves include the sciatic nerve which is the largest nerve in the body, running through your buttock and branching down into the legs. Also, the ulnar nerve is another common pinched nerve, which runs from the neck down into the hand, supplying sensation to the little finger and half of the ring finger. Ulnar neuritis is often caused by the ulnar nerve getting pinched at your elbow.

pinched nerves

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

Common pinched nerves cause different types of symptoms, depending on the location and severity of the nerve compression. The pain can range from a dull ache to sharp, shooting pain. The pain may worsen with certain movements or activities and can also cause numbness or tingling, like a pins-and-needles sensation. Pinched nerves can also lead to joint inflammation, muscle weakness, stiffness or spasms and commonly cause patients to limit physical activities that trigger the pain.

Do Pinched Nerves go away?

Pinched nerves may go away on their own, but are more likely to return in absence of treatment. Home treatments like rest and over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with symptom relief. Applying ice to the affected area where the nerve is pinched, along with stretching and rest may help. Ice is typically applied for 10-12 minutes a few times a day. If the pain and symptoms of a pinched nerve don’t improve after several days, or you experience weakness, altered bowel, bladder or sexual function, it is important to contact a medical professional for guidance and recommendations.

Treatment Options for Common Pinched Nerves

  • Rest and Home Exercise Strategies: Strenuous activities like bending, lifting, and twisting, or repetitive motions that irritate the pinched nerves should be avoided. Resting both the affected areas and minimizing the stress on the compressed nerves is important for the healing process. Walking, swimming, biking or using an elliptical trainer are excellent low impact cardio activities that won’t add stress to the pinched nerve but will speed up the healing process by increasing blood flow and will strengthen muscles. Avoid anything that worsens symptoms.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care for a pinched nerve typically involves spinal manipulation and adjustments aimed at reducing pressure on the affected nerve and restoring proper alignment and function. By applying gentle and controlled forces to specific joints or areas where your nerve is pinched, chiropractors aim to improve joint and soft tissue mobility and alleviate nerve compression. Additionally, chiropractors address the underlying issues by providing guidance on posture and ergonomic recommendations, and using nutrition to speed healing.
  • Massage Therapy: Chiropractors and massage therapists incorporate massage and stretching techniques to reduce muscle tension and inflammation around the affected area. Targeted massage strokes and manipulation of soft tissues, muscles and connective tissue release tightness and improve circulation in the area surrounding the pinched nerve.
  • Medications and Injections: Over the counter medications can be used to treat symptoms of pinched nerves. N-SAIDS and topical medications may help relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and prescribed muscle relaxants may help to alleviate muscle spasms for increased range of motion. When necessary, doctors also prescribe nerve membrane stabilizers to help alleviate the numbness, tingling, and the pain that pinched nerves cause. A more aggressive strategy for treating severe pinched nerves are steroid injections to reduce inflammation for several months, keeping in mind this is not necessarily a solution, but a faster way to find some relief while you address the underlying cause.

Long-Term Strategies for Preventing Common Pinched Nerves

There are a lot of strategies patients can employ to prevent the most common pinched nerves.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the strain on your spine and joints and decreases the risk of conditions that can lead to pinched nerves.
  • Good posture helps maintain proper spinal alignment, reducing the likelihood of nerve impingement.
  • Stretching keeps muscles strong and flexible, reducing muscle tension and the risk of nerve compression.
  • Avoiding prolonged sitting or lying in one position and taking breaks from repetitive motions can also help prevent nerve compression.
  • Using ergonomic equipment, like wrist rests, can further reduce strain on the nerves and muscles.

These strategies, when practiced consistently, can significantly contribute to spinal and joint health and reduce the risk of pinched nerves.

Contact Aligned Medical Group for Pinched Nerve Treatment Options!

Each year, 85 out of 100,000 adults in the US suffer from at least one of the most common pinched nerves. Those 50 and older and those suffering from arthritis and spinal degeneration are most often affected. Contact the medical team at Aligned Medical Group if the symptoms from your pinched nerves don’t improve with at-home treatment. Our providers treat the pain and work with each patient to find the underlying causes to improve current and future quality of life. Call (610) 644-3166 to schedule an appointment to get back to a pain free lifestyle!