Most of us have experienced the numbness of a limb when we realise we have been lying on it the wrong way. The numbness we feel eventually gives way to ‘pins and needles’, a tingling sensation in the affected area that is caused by pinching nerves. In fact any pressure applied to a nerve by the surrounding tissue will produce this discomfort and will interrupt the nerve’s functioning.


A pinched nerve is characterised by:

Tenderness, tingling, or numbness in one part of your body, often a limb
Pins and needles, burning or tearing pain
Nerves passing over bones are particularly vulnerable, especially those which extend down the arms or legs, the nerves in your feet, and between the discs in your spine, as well as the nerve which travels from your spine to your foot
With treatment, a pinched nerve is usually healed within a few days to a week; more chronic cases may leave permanent problems


Pressure from the surrounding tissue on a peripheral nerve causes inflammation of the nerve. The pressure can occur for many reasons including pregnancy, lying on the area, an injury, repetitive motions, or joint disease, to name just a few.

Another common cause of nerve irritation is a damaged spinal disc commonly known as a slipped disc (see Back Problems). Heavy lifting, obesity, and contact sports may also contribute to the problem.

Natural Therapies

The minerals magnesium phosphate and potassium phosphate are indicated for the treatment of a pinched nerve
Fish oil capsules may be of assistance to relieve the inflammation that is causing pressure on the nerve
Hypericum is a traditional herbal remedy for nerve pain (NOTE: Hypericum should not be taken by those on antidepressant medication or undergoing treatment for HIV or AIDS)
Your healthcare professional may suggest wearing a splint, brace, or some other support and may also recommend a physical therapist to help you reinforce the muscles in the affected area.

Try applying a heat rub to the area to provide symptomatic relief.

Lifestyle Factors

When performing repetitive tasks, be sure to take regular stretch breaks, and if possible, stop and divide your work into several smaller chunks, with other activities in between.

If you are obese, reducing your body weight may help to relieve the condition at the same time as helping your overall health. Always consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new weight loss programme.

Regular massage may be of assistance to reduce pressure on the affected nerve. Treatment by a physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor is also recommended.


Always warm up before commencing exercise and don’t forget to stretch before, during and after activity.

Try to avoid the tasks that aggravate the condition.

Important Notes

Consult your healthcare professional if you have a pinched nerve, especially if the symptoms are severe or limit your movement.

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