Top Causes of Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve occurs when something is pressing on the nerve, such as a tendon, ligament or bone. When that happens, the nerve is irritated and can cause numbness, tingling, and pain. Knowing the causes of pinched nerves can help. And surprisingly, a lot of causes are every day activities. 

pinched nerveSports activities

Overworking your body and putting strain on your muscles, bones and nerves can negatively affect your body. High contact sports like football and hockey can mean constant aggressive contact to your body. This can compress bones and muscles and constrict a nerve. Other sports with continuous and repetitive activity, like basketball, tennis or golf, can also cause the same strain on your muscles and tendons. This can also lead to a pinched nerve. Many pinched nerves caused my sports can be treated through physical therapy and medication. 


Continuous activity and repetitive motions can cause a pinched nerve. This can happen especially for people who work manual labor jobs. The stress of persistent twisting, pulling, moving and lifting can also constrict a nerve. It’s important to not strain your body, and in situations where you are heavy lifting or pulling, make sure to team lift. This includes outside of work, such as yard work or household projects. 


People who work office jobs aren’t safe either. Posture is another leading cause of pinched nerves. This cause is more long-term as it’s based on the way in which you sit, stand and even sleep. Over time your posture can temporarily alter your muscle tension, causing a pinched nerve. Purchasing a supportive chair, mattress and shoes as well as being aware of your posture can all help to minimize the chance of getting a pinched nerve. It’s also a good idea to change your work environment throughout the day to change up your body’s positioning. Standing desks are a good way to switch up your posture throughout the day, or working in different places (if your work allows). 

Side sleepers tend to have more pinched nerves and shoulder problems. Certain pillows and mattresses are more conducive to side sleeping. If you sleep on your side, you need a more supportive pillow to keep your neck in line with your back. 


Many injuries can also have pinched nerves as a side effect. Typically spinal or other bone and tendon injuries can lead to a pinched nerve. After an injury, tissue is usually inflamed, which can cause the pressure against the nerve. Typically this will go away on its own over time as the injury heals. 

It’s almost impossible to avoid activities that cause pinched nerves since almost anything can lead to it. The best thing you can do is be aware of your activities and try to be safe.

Treating Pinched Nerves

Dr. Samuel Koo offers both surgical and non-surgical treatments for pinched nerves. Most commonly, pinched nerves are treated by being referred to a physical therapist on top of being prescribed medication or given steroid injections. If surgery is required, it’s typically because the pinched nerve is a side effect of a larger issue, such as a rotator cuff disorder

For more information on pinched nerves or to schedule an appointment to diagnose/treat a pinched nerve in your arm or shoulder, call (425) 823-4000 today.

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