What are the Different Treatments for a Pinched Arm Nerve?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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A pinched arm nerve can cause significant pain and difficulties accomplishing basic daily tasks. If a nerve is compressed or damaged in the wrist, elbow, or shoulder, a person can experience debilitating arm weakness. There are a few different approaches to treatment for a pinched arm nerve, and a doctor can help to determine the best option based on the location, severity, and cause of symptoms. Most pinched nerves can be relieved with a period of rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. High-strength medications, bracing, physical therapy, or surgery may be needed in more serious cases.

The most common site of a pinched arm nerve is the wrist, a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome. If pain, tingling, and numbness are centered in the elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome may be responsible. Both conditions are usually caused by chronic overuse of the joints, and symptoms are related to inflammation and swelling of muscles, tendons, and joint tissue that surround major nerves. Treatment for a pinched arm nerve is therefore targeted at stopping inflammation, which reduces swelling and relieves nerve compression.


A minor case of carpal or cubital tunnel syndrome can usually be alleviated by avoiding the activities that cause pain. For some, that may mean taking a break from daily typing or investing in an ergonomic keyboard that takes pressure off of the wrists. Construction workers, painters, and other people who perform repetitive elbow motions may need to reduce their workload or take time off for a few weeks. Most doctors agree that rest is the most important element of recovery from a pinched arm nerve. A physician may even suggest wearing a splint during the day or night to keep an affected joint immobilized.

An individual can also use ice packs and over-the-counter medications to reduce symptoms and speed up recovery time. Applying an ice pack to a sore wrist or elbow can help to numb pain and reduce joint swelling. Responsible use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can also help to relieve aches. If pain and weakness persist despite conservative home treatments, it is important to speak with a doctor about other options.

A doctor can inject a corticosteroid directly into an especially painful joint to instantly reduce inflammation. He or she might prescribe high-strength painkillers and suggest physical therapy after about one month of rest. Guided physical therapy exercises can help patients regain strength in their arms and learn how to avoid overuse injuries in the future.

Surgery may be necessary if all other treatment options fail. A skilled surgeon can locate the exact site of nerve compression and determine the best way to reverse it. Surgery may involve clipping a tendon or muscle, removing a bone spur, or realigning the nerve to avoid further damage. Most patients need to wear casts or slings for several weeks following surgery and participate in physical therapy before returning to regular activities.


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Post 3

My girlfriend's nephew plays youth football. This is his second year playing, and he got his first significant injury in their last game. He plays linebacker on defense. The other team's running back broke through the defensive line, and her nephew went to make the tackle. Somehow he got his arm hit and pulled in one direction and his neck and head went in the opposite direction.

We were at the game, and it was tough to watch. He fell to the ground and when he did finally walk off the field his arm was hanging limp. I played football, so I have seen my share of stingers/pinched nerves and I know the feeling since I experienced this one time. Pinched nerve pain hurts like crazy. Hopefully, he'll be fine and not have any lasting problems with the arm.

Post 2

@Melonlity -- I would suggest anyone using that kind of homemade remedy to go see a doctor if the condition doesn't improve considerably after a few days. Nerve pain is nothing to fool around with and could lead to some major problems if not treated early.

And that's the thing about lower back pain, pinched nerve pain and all of that stuff. You can do a lot of of good if you catch the old pinched nerve symptoms early and do something about it. If you wait too long, you could have a real problem on your hands and could have to deal with long term pain.

Post 1

Believe me when I tell you that carpal tunnel syndrome is no joke. It's more of a nerve tingle than a nerve pain at first, but it can get bad in a hurry.

If you use a computer a lot, carpal tunnel seems to attack the hand you use to guide the mouse. If that hand starts to tingle and feel like it is falling asleep, immediately wrap it with one of those long, elasticized bandages while you are working on your computer. Taking frequent breaks from working on your computer can help, too.

I have had that condition feel like it was surfacing a time or two and used the old "bandage wrap" trick to ward it off. I've even left the bandage on at night support my wrist even more.

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