The Body-Wide Impact of a Pinched Nerve

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Do you suspect your pinched nerve is affecting your whole body? Thanks to our intelligent but complex bodies, a pinched nerve can cause more than just localized symptoms; its effects may be felt in other joints and tissues.

This article delves into the potential for a pinched nerve to cause widespread discomfort, as well as treatments that may provide relief from acute and chronic pain caused by compressed nerves.

Let’s also explore what exactly a “pinched nerve” is, and the treatments available when it’s affecting other body areas.

How Can a Pinched Nerve Affect Your Whole Body?

This comes down to the way your Nervous System works. A pinched nerve will irritate soft tissues like muscles, causing your body to twist and compensate as a result. These follow-on effects can be responsible for discomfort almost anywhere in your body.

Because there may be numbness, tingling sensations, and reduced muscle power when a nerve is compressed or irritated, your body will compensate – usually by twisting away from stressed spinal nerves, so the pinched nerve can heal.

nerve pinch cartoon

Localized agony may be present at the spot of pinching or irritation of a nerve, which we know as a symptom. This may be accompanied by numbness and tingling sensations along with muscle weakness in nearby areas as well.

Which nerve is affected and how severe it is will determine what other parts of your body become affected.

For example, if you have sciatica caused by a pinched sciatic nerve then you may experience shooting pains down your leg from your lower back area as well as hip pain and even calf cramps or foot pain.

Similarly, if one of your neck nerves becomes trapped then you could feel radiating pains (radiculopathy) down into your shoulder blade area with accompanying arm aches and hand tingles too. This is akin to Sciatica in the shoulder.

Pinched nerves can have far-reaching implications, such as causing headaches, foot numbness, and even digestive disturbances like constipation or diarrhea due to how your nervous system interlinks with your organs.

A herniated disc in your lumbar spine? You can expect radiating pain and perhaps muscle spasms from the compressed nerve. Your vital spinal cord may come under stress with large or traumatic disc problems, leading to possible dysfunction in your bowel, bladder, or legs.

Finally, there is always a potential risk associated with having any kind of chronic injury left untreated for extended periods. Getting checked up sooner rather than later may save you some long-term complications further down the line – especially if it is causing widespread problems like those above.

Key Takeaway: A pinched nerve can have far-reaching implications, causing localized pain as well as systemic issues such as headaches and fatigue. Seek immediate help with a pinched nerve to stop downstream issues.

What is a Pinched Nerve?

A pinched nerve is a condition that occurs when there is pressure or tension on the nerve, causing it to become compressed.

A pinched nerve can be the result of many things, including inflammation, contracted muscles, herniations in your spine’s discs, bone spurs or scar tissue. When this happens, it can lead to pain and other symptoms that may affect your whole body.

There are two main types of nerve compression

Direct and Indirect

Direct compression is when something directly presses against the nerve itself; for example, a bone spur pressing against a nearby nerve root in your spine. Indirect compression occurs when surrounding tissue places pressure on the nerves; for example, from scar tissue around an injured joint compressing a nearby sensory nerve branch.

When one of these types of compression occur on a particular area of your body – usually near where the affected nerves originate – it’s known as entrapment neuropathy or radiculopathy (radiating pain along pathways leading away from its source).

If left untreated, severe cases may result in a loss of feeling. It is therefore imperative that professionals are consulted immediately upon noticing any peculiar symptoms associated with possible pinched nerves.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve

A pinched nerve can be caused by excessive pressure on a certain nerve, which may stem from an injury, spinal stenosis, poor posture, or even sleeping awkwardly with your head twisted to the side.

Common symptoms of a pinched nerve include tingling, numbness, weakness, and chronic pain.

  • Tingling sensations are one of the most commonly reported symptoms of a pinched nerve. These sensations often start out as minor but may become more intense.
  • Numbness, which may be slight to extreme depending on the amount of pressure applied, can affect the area around the pinched nerve.
  • Weakness in muscles near the site of compression is also common with this issue.

What causes nerve pain all over the body?

Nerve pain all over the body can be caused by various conditions, including peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, and can be caused by diabetes, autoimmune diseases, infections, and exposure to toxins.

Several other conditions can cause pain all over the body, and in many areas at once. These may include:

  1. Fibromyalgia: a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue, and tenderness in the muscles and soft tissues.
  2. Chronic fatigue syndrome: a complex disorder characterized by severe fatigue that is not relieved by rest, along with a range of other symptoms such as muscle pain, joint pain, and headaches.
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling throughout the body.
  4. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): an autoimmune disorder that can affect various organs and tissues, causing symptoms such as joint pain, skin rashes, and fatigue.
  5. Multiple sclerosis (MS): a chronic neurological condition that affects the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness, and pain.
  6. Lyme disease: an infectious disease caused by tick bites that can cause joint pain, fatigue, and muscle pain.

It is important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you are experiencing pain all over your body.

Treatment Options for Pinched Nerves

  • Rest is often the first line of defense against pinched nerves, as it gives the affected area time to heal.
  • Physical therapy exercises can also help by strengthening muscles around the nerve and improving your range of motion (ROM).
  • A fascinating new option for pinched nerves to consider is acupuncture or dry needling.
  • Chiropractic adjustments are designed to relieve pressure on the nerve root.
  • Massage therapy helps relax tight muscles that could be contributing to nerve compression.
  • Stretching exercises should also be incorporated into your routine in order to improve flexibility and reduce tension in the surrounding areas.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief from pain, while anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids or NSAIDs may be prescribed for more severe cases of inflammation reduction.
  • In some cases, surgery may become necessary if other treatments fail; however, this should always be considered a last resort option due to its invasive nature and potential risks involved with any type of surgical procedure. It is important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new treatment plan so they can assess your individual needs.

Key Takeaway: With the right treatments and lifestyle changes, a pinched nerve can be effectively managed. Physical therapy, medications, heat/cold compresses, dietary supplements, and more can reduce pain and inflammation; consulting with a professional such as a Chiropractor is recommended for optimal results.


Can a pinched nerve affect multiple areas?

Yes, a pinched nerve can affect multiple areas. When a nerve is compressed or irritated, it can cause pain and dysfunction at the source of the compression as well as in other parts of the body that may be distant from where the injury occurred. In some cases, this type of compression may also lead to referred pain in distant parts of the body.

Can a pinched nerve affect your nervous system?

Yes. When a nerve is compressed or irritated due to injury or disease, it can lead to pain and other neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and even weakness in some parts of the body. In some cases, these symptoms may worsen over time if left untreated. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these issues for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that best suits your needs.

What are severe symptoms of a pinched nerve?

A pinched nerve can cause a variety of severe symptoms, such as radiating pain, tingling sensations, numbness and muscle weakness. The symptoms of a pinched nerve can range from concentrated to spread out, depending on the position of the impacted nerve. In addition to physical discomfort, some people with a pinched nerve may experience fatigue and difficulty concentrating due to disrupted sleep patterns caused by chronic pain.


A pinched nerve can have a far-reaching effect on the body, resulting in discomfort and other symptoms that could be felt throughout multiple areas of your anatomy. It is important to seek treatment for any chronic or severe nerve compression to reduce further damage and ensure optimal recovery, because sustained pressure can damage a nerve permanently.

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Author Bio

Dr Jason Whealing headshot

Dr. Jason Whealing is a Chiropractor with extensive experience across the UK and Australia. He is passionate about family care and injury management. The cases Jason works with daily include back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, sciatica, knee pain, shoulder pain, headaches and migraine.

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