Your nerves are responsible for sending information to and/or from a specific area in your body.  Pinched nerve symptoms are dependent on which nerve is affected.   Therefore, the symptoms of a pinched nerve will affect different parts of your body.

Common Pinched Nerve Symptoms

While the area of the symptoms may differ, there are some common symptoms of a pinched nerve that you may experience.  These include pain radiating outward from the injured area, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness in your muscles along the path of a nerve.

When you have a pinched nerve “sensation,” you may feel like a specific part of your body has fallen asleep.  Pinched nerve symptoms can occur at the location of the pinched nerve or down the path of the affected nerve.

Numbness

Numbness most often arises from damage or disease of the nerves.  Numbness should not be confused with paralysis.  Numbness is the loss of sensation, while paralysis is the loss of both the ability to move the area and the loss of sensation.

Numbness can follow abnormal pain-like sensations, also described as pins and needles, burning, or prickling sensations.  These sensations are called paresthesias.  Paresthesias can affect your hands, fingers, feet, and any other area of your body where a pinched nerve has occurred.

If the sensations are caused by something simple, such as pressure on the nerves, paresthesias can be reversible.  However, there are some more serious nerve conditions that can also cause paresthesias, such as:  peripheral neuropathy, lupus, or multiple sclerosis.  This is why it is very important that you contact a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause of these sensations.

Pain

Your body uses pain to tell the brain that something is not right.  It can vary in intensity and level.  Severe pain is called acute pain.  Pain that is ongoing and persistent is chronic pain.

While there are common symptoms of a pinched nerve, there are common pinched nerve symptoms for a particular area.  Here are just a few that you may experience for a specific area where the damage has been done:

  • Neck – Stiffness and/or neck pain, symptoms may radiate up the back of the head and/or into the upper back or chest, weakness in the arm
  • Lower Back – Stiffness and/or back pain, stiffness and/or leg pain, sciatica (severe pain radiating down the posterior leg into the buttock and down the back of the leg), radiating pain to the foot
  • Wrist – Pain and/or stiffness is generally due to carpal tunnel syndrome and usually affects thumb, index, and middle fingers, weakness in grip strength, atrophy of the muscle of the palm near your thumb
  • Elbow – Pain and/or stiffness in the ring finger and small fingers of your hand
  • Thoracic Spine – Pain and/or weakness in the mid back, shoulder blade, and chest
  • Foot – Pain and/or stiffness is generally caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome and affects the foot and toes

If the pinched nerve comes directly from the spinal cord then coughing or sneezing could aggravate the pain.  If these pinched nerve symptoms last for several days without responding to self care, such as rest and pain medication, contact a doctor immediately.