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Trapped Nerve (Entrapment neuropathy)

A Trapped Nerve or Pinched Nerve is the common name for an Entrapment neuropathy. It is caused by physical compression or irritation of peripheral or major nerves. It produces nerve pain symptoms further away from the middle of the body (E.g. down the arm or leg, or around the chest). Certain sites in the body are more likely to produce trapped nerves because of the way the structure of the body parts (bones and muscles) around the nerves. In some cases compression of blood vessels may also occur producing signs of poor blood supply.

Common sites for Trapped Nerves giving arm pain are:-

  • Neck - Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (Costoclavicular Syndrome, Cervical Rib Syndrome, Scalenus Anterior Syndrome).
  • Shoulder - Supraclavicular Neuritis.
  • Elbow - Ulna Neuritis, Median Neuritis, Radial Neuritis.
  • Wrist - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Ulna Neuritis.


Common sites for Trapped Nerves giving leg pain are:-

  • Hip - Piriformis Syndrome, Meralgia Paraesthetica.
  • Lower Leg - Compartment Syndrome.
  • Foot - Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, Medial Plantar Neuritis, Digital Neuritis, Deep Peroneal Neuritis.

Treatment in our clinic consists of joint and muscle mobilisation (reducing muscle spasm and tissue swelling, increasing the amount of physical space for the trapped nerve), dry needle, medical acupuncture (reducing muscle spasm, and reducing trigger points) massage and soft tissue stretching, postural advice, exercises, work and lifestyle advice.

If the problem is severe or not resolving then Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is usually the best way to find the exact cause. The findings of the MRI will tell your specialist osteopath if a Surgical opinion, Rheumatologist or Pain Clinic referral is necessary.

by John Chaffey last review April 2014