What causes a pinched nerve?

Anything that compresses, entraps or stretches a nerve or group of nerves can cause a pinched nerve. This can include pressure on a nerve from a bulging or herniated disc in the back, broken bones or bone spurs, or inflammation or swelling of nearby structures. Certain body positions can stretch nerves or put pressure on them. Cystic growths or tumors can also press on nerves.

Common causes of pinched nerve

A number of conditions can cause a pinched nerve including:

  • Arthritis
  • Benign or malignant tumors of nerves, soft tissue, or other structures
  • Bone spurs, cysts or tumors
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Degenerative disc disease (caused by wear and tear and the effects of aging on the spine)
  • Fracture of bone
  • Repetitive use injuries
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal, creating pressure on the spinal cord or nerves)
  • Trauma or injury

What are the risk factors for a pinched nerve?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing a pinched nerve. Not all people with risk factors will get a pinched nerve. Risk factors for a pinched nerve include:

  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior injuries such as fractures or repetitive use injuries
  • Sports injuries

Reducing your risk of a pinched nerve

You may be able to lower your risk of pinched nerve by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Observing good posture
  • Using an ergonomically correct workstation
  • Using protective equipment to reduce the risk of injury while playing sports or exercising

What is a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve is an injury to a nerve or group of nerves resulting from compression, entrapment or stretching. Numbness, tingling, burning or pain can result. In some cases, muscle weakness can also occur. Symptoms of a pinched nerve may develop gradually or can come on suddenly.... Read more about pinched nerveintroduction


What are the symptoms of a pinched nerve?

Symptoms of a pinched nerve depend upon the location, but typically involve alterations in sensation such a pain or numbness and may involve weakness.... Read more about pinched nervesymptoms


How is a pinched nerve treated?

Treatment of a pinched nerve often begins with rest and use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, if needed. When these actions fail to improve your symptoms, splinting, steroid injections, and physical therapy might be helpful. In some circumstances, surgery may be needed to treat nerve entrapment or compression.... Read more about pinched nervetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves