Pinched nerve — numb feeling

Sometimes, a pinched nerve can cause a tingling or numb feeling in the arm or leg near the damaged nerve root. While this symptom is not commonly thought to be associated with a pinched nerve, the compression of a nerve root near the spinal canal can disrupt the signal pathway a nerve uses to communicate feeling and sensation to the extremities.

If you are experiencing chronic numbness or tingling in one of your extremities, you should consult your physician. Untreated numbness can result in permanent nerve damage. Your physician can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend several treatment options to help alleviate the tingling sensation in your arm and hand or leg and foot.

Understanding the nerve pathways

Think of a pinched nerve like hitting your funny bone. When you hit that unprotected length of the ulnar nerve (near the elbow), the pain seems to reverberate along the arm. A similar phenomenon happens when a nerve becomes compressed in the spinal column. The regular flow of signals is interrupted, and symptoms can be experienced locally — as chronic neck pain — or be transferred along the nerve to a different part of the body.

For example, a nerve root in the lower back on the left side of the spine transmits signals between the brain and the left leg and foot. If that nerve root becomes pinched, the signals can be altered or cut off completely, causing a range of symptoms in the left leg and foot, such as numbness or tingling.

Causes of a pinched nerve

A pinched nerve can be caused a number of ways. The most common sources can be minor injury and muscle inflammation, although regular spine deterioration can also lead to a pinched nerve. Some types of spine degeneration that can lead to nerve compression include:

  • Bulging intervertebral discs
  • Facet disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Osteophytes

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a pinched nerve, consult your physician or send your MRI report to one of our spine care experts for an accurate diagnosis and treatment recommendations. Contact us today to learn more.

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