What is a trapped nerve?
Trapped nerve describes back and other problems that happen when nerves get compressed, trapped or irritated, often between bones in the spine or neck. This is also called a pinched nerve or compressed nerve.
Nerves are the body's information highways - sending instructions to muscles from the brain and receiving reports back from the senses, such as touch.
Symptoms of trapped nerve
Symptoms of having a trapped nerve include:
- Numbness, a sensation that the foot or hand has 'fallen asleep'
- Burning pain
- Pins and needles sensation
- Pain radiating outwards from the trapped nerve
- Muscle weakness, dropped foot
- Back pain, sciatica.
The symptoms will vary depending on where the nerve is trapped, especially its location in the spine.
Causes of trapped nerve
A trapped nerve can be due to:
How is a trapped nerve diagnosed?
A diagnosis of trapped nerve will be based on:
- Medical history, other health conditions
- Any obvious causes, such as accidents
- Physical examination
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Nerve conduction study, electromyography (EMG).
Diagnosis of trapped nerve can be made harder by the pain caused in one area being sensed in another.
Is there any treatment for a trapped nerve?
Treatment for trapped nerve will depend on the causes and individual circumstances, and includes:
- Rest, avoiding aggravating the nerve
- Ice, ice pack wrapped in a cloth placed on the affected area
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Splints or collars
Will trapped nerves go away?
Trapped nerve symptoms will usually improve after treatment, but if the pain returns further treatment may be required.