A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is placed on a nerve from the surrounding tissues, bones, muscles or tendons. The pressure causes inflammation of the nerve, resulting in the nerve not functioning properly. No permanent damage will occur if the nerve is pinched for a short period of time, and you'll be able to function normally once the pressure is relieved. However, if the pressure continues for a prolonged period of time, you may suffer from chronic pain and permanent damage. The symptoms of a pinched nerve depend on the nerve affected, but often include pain, numbness, tingling or weakness [source: Mayo Clinic].
You will have various treatment options -- your doctor will discuss them with you. Here are a few of them.
- Support braces. A fitted brace will limit movement around the nerve and allow it to recover. It will also help relieve the pressure being placed on the nerve.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy will help strengthen the muscles around the nerve, thus alleviating the pressure.
- Medication. Anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, will help reduce the swelling around the nerve.
- Surgery. If all else fails, surgery may be necessary. The type of surgery used would depend on where the affected nerve is located. If it's in the lower back and the diagnosis is a herniated disc, the surgery may entail removing part of the herniated disc to give the nerve more room to pass through the spine. If the pinched nerve is in the wrist or elbow, the surgeon will remove the tissue that's pressing against the nerve [source: Medicinenet].