Pinched nerve is a particular type of injury or damage to a nerve or group of nerves. It usually occurs when there is “compression” or pressure on a nerve. The pressure may be the result of repetitive motions. Or it may happen from holding your body in one position for long periods, such as keeping elbows bent while sleeping.
Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them. A pinched nerve not only makes movement more difficult, it also can cause a variety of uncomfortable physical sensations including crippling pain.
Although a pinched nerve usually causes pain in the back or neck, nerves in other areas can also be affected. Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe, causing temporary or long-lasting problems.
If nerve compression lasts for a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve can break down, fluid can build up and cause swelling, extra pressure and scarring. The scarring may interfere with the nerve’s function.
How long it takes for symptoms to end can vary from person to person. Treatment varies as well, depending on the severity and cause of the pinched nerve.
Some benefit greatly from simply resting the injured area and by avoiding any activities that tend to worsen symptoms. In many cases, that’s all you need to do. However, if symptoms persist or pain is severe, see your physician.