If you are experiencing numbness, pain, or tingling in your arm or hand, then it is very possible you have a pinched nerve in your arm. Does your hand fall asleep often? Do you have severe or aching pain in your elbow? Is there shooting pain from your arm to your fingers? This could indicate a pinched nerve in your arm.
Pinched Nerve in Arm Causes and Symptoms
The symptoms you experience will depend on the cause. The most common causes for a pinched nerve in the arm are carpal tunnel syndrome and elbow injuries. While these are the most common, there are other causes that can be a possibility, though they are rare.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
This condition is associated with repetitive movements with your hand. Factory line work, typing, carpentry work, and sports that require repetitive movements like tennis, are common reasons for carpal tunnel syndrome.
Symptoms for carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Numbness in the first two fingers
- Pain at the wrist
- Loss of grip strength
These symptoms can affect the entire hand and radiate up the arm. Symptoms will worsen with movement. These symptoms have been known to wake people up during sleep due to movement and position of their hand.
A pinched nerve in the arm caused by an elbow injury is also common. Fractures, direct blows, severe twisting, and dislocations can be examples of an elbow injury that can result in a pinched nerve in the arm. Forceful flexion and extension of your elbow can occur when you are rear ended in a car accident and your hands are holding the steering wheel time at the point of impact.
This is a rare condition where the median nerve can become pinched. This is the same nerve that can be pinched by carpal tunnel syndrome at the wrist; however, pronator syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve at the elbow.
Entrapment of the Ulnar Nerve
Entrapment of the unlar nerve at the wrist is a rare condition that can result in a lesion, such as a ganglion cyst, lipoma, or an unlar artery aneurism that can take up space and cause pressure on the nerve.
Repetitive trauma can cause this condition. Repetitive trauma can be the result of using a jackhammer or using the bone of your hand as a hammer. This type of compression is more common with people who suffer from arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, or thyroid problems.
Those who are diagnosed with this condition do not generally feel pain. In fact, most people will complain about weakness and numbness on the outside edge of the hand. When the entrapment is located at the wrist, sensory and/or motor changes can occur. This can cause a tingling sensation over the ring and little fingers and at the tip of the little finger. You may also experience weakness of the muscles that you use to spread your fingers apart.
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
This rare condition can cause numbness or tingling in your hand. It generally affects the long ring finger and small finger. It is most often caused by tight neck muscles, also called scalenes.
Pinched Nerve in Arm Treatment
Resting the affected area is one of the first steps. Pain medication is also an option to help reduce the pain. Your doctor could prescribe corticosteroid injections if splinting and physical therapy is necessary.
It is possible that you will need to make some changes in your life, such as a new occupational routine, if possible. If this is not a possibility, you may need to take into consideration a new career. Surgery will be the final option for a pinched nerve in your arm.