A pinched nerve can happen to any nerve in the body, although the nerves of the neck, wrists, elbow and back are most commonly affected. Pinched nerves may be a result of repetitive motions, overuse, arthritis or a disorder of the joint or muscle near the nerve, and can cause symptoms that range in severity from mild to debilitating depending on the cause and location of the pinched nerve.
Abnormal sensations in your skin may occur as the result of a pinched nerve. A burning sensation is a common sign of a pinched nerve, and you may feel hotness from within although your skin may not be unusually warm to the touch. Other abnormal sensations caused by pinched nerves include tingling or a "pins and needles" sensation.
Experiencing difficulty in the movement of a joint is a sign of a pinched nerve that can lead to complications. Difficulty with moving the wrists, hands or fingers can result from a pinched nerve in your arm or wrist and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome (see References). A pinched nerve in the neck may make it hard to turn your head or hold a phone between your shoulder and ear.
Numbness or a feeling that your foot or hand has "fallen asleep" is a sign of a pinched nerve that occurs in just one hand or foot. The affected extremity may feel heavy, and this feeling may last for several minutes or longer. Numbness in the foot from a pinched nerve may be a serious concern for people with high blood pressure or diabetes due to the risk of significant nerve damage.
A pinched nerve may cause a temporary lack or loss of sensation of your skin in the affected area. Sensitivity to temperature may be lost, which can result in injuries such as frostbite, sunburns and blisters. A loss of the ability to recognize pain in the area of a pinched nerve may result in more inflammation and a worsening of the condition that caused the pinched nerve.
Pain is the most common sign of a pinched nerve, and the pain may radiate from the area of the affected nerve into other parts of the body. Pain from a pinched nerve may be constant and can range from uncomfortable to severe, and can be reduced with rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Pain that suddenly becomes worse or lasts for more than a few days may require urgent medical evaluation to prevent serious complications.
Weakness of the muscles in a particular area of your body without any obvious external injury is a sign of a pinched nerve.For example, you might have difficulty grasping during a handshake or holding a pen or trouble standing or holding one position for a long time. Muscles near a pinched nerve may also twitch or contract involuntarily.