Neurological Disorders: Pinched Nerve

What is this condition?

Pinched nerve is a generic term used for a variety of conditions that are associated with the pinching or compression of a nerve.

A nerve is an elongated wire or cable like structure of varying thickness and length and they convey the nerve impulses (electrical signals) between the CNS (Central Nervous System - that includes brain & spinal cord) and the peripheral tissues and organs.

Pinching as pointed above is nothing but a compression and this can occur in many different places of the body, so this condition is also called as compressive neuropathy and some of these compressive neuropathies are also called as entrapment neuropathies because the compression results due to a nerve getting entrapped, for example CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome).

Some of the common nerve pinching conditions are listed below;

• Pinched spinal nerve root
• CTS(carpal tunnel syndrome) median nerve
• Guyons canal syndrome (ulnar nerve)
• Meralgia parasthetica (lateral femoral cutaneous nerve)
• Occipital neuralgia (occipital verve)
• Tarsal tunnel syndrome (branches of tibial nerve)

In all these conditions the spinal nerve roots or one of the peripheral nerves get compressed along their root by some structural pathology. The culprit could be a disc material, ligaments, tendons, abnormal growths, bone spurs etc.

How does patient present?

The symptoms in general correspond to the structures or areas supplied by the compressed nerve. Sometimes at the place of compression there could be swelling, tenderness, pain, reddening discoloration, also lightly tapping that area might reproduce patient’s baseline symptoms.


An EMG/NCS (electromyography and nerve conduction study) is used to confirm many types of entrapment neuropathies. Sometimes there are no diagnostic investigations so we have to settle only for a clinical diagnosis.


Entrapment neuropathies are treated symptomatically for the pain, numbness and tingling sensation, and by surgical decompression of the pinched-nerve if the damage is progressive or severe.

A Neurologist is commonly involved in the management of conditions involving pinching of the nerves.

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