Nerve compression

Nerve entrapment or compression neuropathy

Nerve compression syndrome is a medical condition caused by direct pressure on a nerve.

About nerve compression

Nerve compression syndrome (trapped nerves) can cause pain and loss of nerve function. They are usually caused by chronic compression. Compressed nerves often happen in the arm, around the elbow (cubital tunnel syndrome) and the wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome). More rarely, they can occur in the lower limbs.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of nerve compression? icon plus

    Tingling, numbness, radiating pain and loss of limb function are common signs of nerve compression.

    Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are tingling or numbness in the your fingers and weakness — you may start to drop objects. This is because the median nerve that travels from the arm to the hand becomes trapped in the central part of the wrist.

    Symptoms of cubital tunnel syndrome are tingling, numbness, pain and weakness in the wrist, hand and fingers. Here, the ulnar nerve, which runs down the entire arm, becomes trapped at the elbow and cannot serve the hand properly.

  • How is nerve compression syndrome diagnosed? icon plus

    Your consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and help to make a diagnosis. They'll ask whether you have any numbness or lack of function in your limbs. Based on this, they may order further tests. Ultrasound scans and neurophysiology studies are an effective way to diagnose a trapped nerve.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment varies, depending on the severity and cause of the nerve compression. Anti-inflammatory medicine may provide some pain relief from trapped nerves. Oral corticosteroids and steroid injections can help with pain too. Carpal tunnel can be treated with release surgery. Here, the transverse carpal ligament is cut to release pressure on the median nerve and relieve pain.

    Cubital tunnel syndrome can also be treated with surgery. At times, the trapped nerve is relocated from the cubital tunnel to sit just in front of it. This frees the trapped nerve and provides pain relief.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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