27 Dec 2022

What is a ‘trapped nerve’?

Nervous System, trapped nerve

Most people who come to see us at Kasa Chiropractic in Bristol have a form of ‘trapped nerve’ causing their pain.  A lot of Chiropractors will also call this ‘trapped nerve’ a ‘subluxation’.  The question is, what is a trapped nerve?

To start with, your nerves go everywhere throughout your body.  They nerves control everything; every movement, sensation, thought and emotion.  They do this by linking your brain to your body.  Your brain is like a big computer that sends messages down through the spinal cord and out through the nerves between each vertebrae to the whole body.  In fact, you have so many of them that if you removed every cell apart from your nerves you would still be recognisable!

You can trap a nerve just about anywhere in your body; a trapped nerve in the back is perhaps one of the most common types.

So you can see, the nerves of your body are very important indeed!

How do these nerves get trapped?

Poor desk posture trapped nerve neck back pain

Poor posture is a major cause of trapped nerves

Well, there are many different ways to trap a nerve, however I’m going to explain the one that we see most commonly.  The spinal column and nerves are housed within the spine.

Trapped nerves are mostly caused by a build up of poor posture and stress

A trapped nerve is caused by two things: big traumas, like a car crash or falling down the stairs, or, most commonly, small repetitive traumas, like poor posture and stress.  So essentially it is because of our modern lifestyles that we don’t look after our spines very well.  So when these traumas happen to the spine the vertebrae (the spine bones) that are designed to move freely can stiffen up.  When a joint in the spine does not work properly then it can irritate the nerve next to it.  Although this process is much more complicated and involves fancy long names, for simplicity sake, we call it a ‘trapped nerve’.

What symptoms can a ‘trapped nerve’ cause?

Firstly, you are most likely to feel pain where the nerve is trapped.  So if you trap a nerve in the low back you will feel low back pain.  If you trap a nerve in your neck, you will feel neck pain.

However the more ‘pressure’ that is put on the nerve the further away from where it is trapped you can feel it.  This is called referred pain.  So for example, some of the nerves from your low back go down your legs as the sciatic nerve.  This can cause pain down your leg all the way to your foot and is often known as sciatica.  Likewise, the nerves from the top of your neck go up into your head causing headaches; and the nerves from your lower neck go into your arms to your fingers.

I’ve mentioned pain as this is the most common presentation, however a trapped nerve can cause tingling, pins and needles, numbness and weakness of the muscles; in some cases it can cause no symptoms at all.

What can be done to get rid of a trapped nerve?

There are many things you can do to help a trapped nerve, for example, using an ice pack, stretching, massage, changing your work set up or stressful situation and of course Chiropractic.  As a Chiropractor I’m biased and say that the Chiropractic Adjustment is the best thing for a trapped nerve, combined with the other suggestions as well.

Chiropractic care is very effective for people with trapped nerves

At Kasa Chiropractic in Bristol we use specific Chiropractic adjustments to get the movement back into the restricted spinal joint and take the pressure off the nerve.  The body can then do what it has been wanting to do all along, and that is to heal the nerve.  Voilà, with the pressure off the nerve and the nerve healing, the pain reduces!  Simple isn’t it!

So the next point is, if you think you have a trapped nerve or know someone who has, then why not get a Chiropractic check up to see if Chiropractic can help you. If you’re near Bristol then give us a call on 01179741501 or click here to book an appointment. You can also find out more about our chiropractic services here.




  • John Magor says:

    Had the most excruciating pain In my lower part of my leg from the knee to foot,eased of a little mainly round ankle area now,but the side of my calf feels numb.also feel a slight headache.any suggestions.

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Hello John,
    I’ll send you an email.

  • patricia ellis says:

    I visited my Chiropractor yesterday as I had an excrutiating
    pain in my right groin. She thought that it was caused by a
    trapped nerve. She worked on my back and found that my pelvis
    was out which she treated. Things really are no better today.
    The pain comes on suddenly and is so acute that I fear falling
    over, but it lasts only seconds.

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Hello Patricia,
    I’ve just sent you an email.

  • Marion says:

    I have bad pain going down my buttock right side. The pain goes all the way down the back of my leg and ankle help please!

  • paul says:

    i have had back trouble all my life something hereditary but 7 days ago i bent down heard a crack in my lower back and since then i can hardly walk i am on butrans patches and neproxin but the pain is still very server is there any point in going to the doctors or will it just go away

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Hello Paul, I recommend you get a full examination with either a local Chiropractor or your GP. They will be able to advise you accordingly.
    Kind regards,

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Please read our blog on Sciatica

  • Stef says:

    Hi I have a stabbing pain at the very top of the side of my leg just below my hip bone. The pain is very concentrated and is not radiating into the muscles, and it isn’t my hip itself that is hurting. could this be a trapped nerve? the pain started when I played netball a couple of weeks ago – the first time I had played I 10 years so I must have moved in a way I haven’t done for a while!

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Hello Stef,
    It sounds like a pulled muscle, however if it is still causing pain after a couple weeks I recommend you finding a local Chiropractor to assess your complaint. You could have a misaligned pelvis that has predisposed you to the netball injury.

  • Sharon says:

    Trap nerve under right hand shoulder what can I do

  • Tara says:

    I have pin and needles in my left buttocks and traveling to my back and into my left hand.. It’s been like this for a week. I got gym, not sure what I have done.

  • Alice says:

    Hi, I have shooting pains from my left bum cheek and pain from my toes to my shoulder on my left side only

  • Colin says:

    Hi, last week I was involved in a incident at work where my ankle and shin was trapped since then theres been swelling to both my lower leg and ankle, but only hurts when I apply pressure to my heel…. also I know nothing is broken or bruised could this be a trapped nerve?

  • Sarah says:

    I have a sharp pain just above my left cheek that radiates across my left buttock into my hip. Considerably worse at night.

  • Amanda says:

    I have had pain in my shoulder neck and now hips for 8 weeks. I have seen 4 different doctors who have given me various meds. I am now on diazepam and naproxen. I have been advised the next physio ap is in a month. I am currently off work as I am struggling with every day momovement. What do you suggest I can’t carry on like this and need to get back to work. Thanks For listening

  • Sam says:

    Hiya I get a sensation going up into the side of my head it’s tingly but lasts 2 seconds but I get a ache in my back and leg wen I get it is this a trapped nerve ? I only get it wen I’m sat down mainly

  • Karina says:

    Hey, I woke up this morning with the most excruciating pain in my left shoulder blade. Sitting, breathing in, standing up and moving my arm around is awful. It’s a horrible long and drawn-out pain; I have a feeling I might have slept in a weird way. I’ve dislocated my right shoulder twice before, but the left one has never given me any problems until today. Any help?

  • Kirsten Marley says:

    I have has this pain for a couple of weeks now and this is now what I think it is this really helped thanks

  • Lindsay says:

    Hey, I have a sore pain in my thigh when I press on it the Iain travels down my leg.

  • Theresa says:

    Hy got a trapped nerve in the neck the pain us easing but still got numbness in my two fingers wil the numbness go ?

  • john says:

    Woke with a stiff neck a couple of weeks ago. Still painful and got numbness in fingers and shoulder pain?

  • Marie says:

    I was getting up from the floor when I felt a sharp pain in my foot. Whenever I try to put my foot down flat the pain gets worse. I’ve tried massaging the area to see it that helped but it hasn’t.

  • Ayisha says:

    Hi, I think I have a trapped nerve in my neck. I have a bump in the left side of my neck, it feels like a ball inside my neck and feels really stiff. It is getting harder for me to lift my head as it hurts. I have tried to make it better by getting it massaged, this still hasn’t helped, I have been to the doctors and they said it is just a muscle. I would like to know what can be done to make the pain go away. Any help?

  • phil cooper says:

    My wife has a pain top of her leg which radiates into her bottom & down her leg she just woke up with it

  • Jacquie burton says:

    Hi I bent over a few days ago and when I tried to get up I found the pain on the lower right hand side of my back so bad I could not move I have now managed to get upright walking about helps but the pain is always there trying to arise from sitting or lying down is awfull what do you suggest

  • Monica says:

    I was awoken early on Boxing Day morning with pins and needles in both hands. I shook this off in my left hand but the tingling remained in my right hand. This carried on fir about 10 days when I noticed two thirds my middle and two thirds of my ring finger on my right hand feeling numb and some clumsiness in my right thumb. Went urgent care and they checked my blood sugar which was fine plays did Ecg which they said was fine too. Not sure what to do now.

  • rachael milnes says:

    I gave birth 3 years ago to my daughter and I had to have stitches and I had my legs up on them things (can’t remember the name of them) and ever since then my left leg goes all numb when I am laid on my left side or on my back then I get pins and needles, what would you suggest me to do.

  • linzi says:

    i have pain in my lower back hip and cramp in my leg on the right hand side…… is this a trapped nerve?

  • Heather says:

    I get pain in my neck and left shoulder and down my left back ,I have pain at lower left and I get pain in left arm and leg which can go numb when walking but when I lie down my leg turns back to normal .doc just gives me zapain that’s it .can you help .

  • lana says:

    I have a trap nerve right under my right hand shoulder. Sometimes the pain is stable,sometimes it is unreal which causes really bad head aches.I have used several remidies hot baths, hot water bottles creams etc, however its still there. What Is the solution?

  • Colin Aherne says:

    hi there about a month ago from bad posture i got pain in my neck and tingling pins and needles in hands and tingling on lower face my neck is real sore and doing excercises it hurts at time is this a trapped nerve?? think its more muscle can a chiropractor fix this or wphysio

  • Mala says:

    i have shoulder blade stapling pain, I also can’t take a few breathe, I felt something snap in the left side. I have had mri on neck and back, nothing shows a pinched nerve, I am still feeling electric pain in the shoulder blade and can’t breath in deep. Very scared!!!

  • millie taylor says:

    i have severe pain in my right ankle which travels u>p the leg. i am having acupuncture tteatment for trapped nerve but have been told pain travelling up the leg isn’t a trapped nerve but vitamin d deficiency, who do you think is right? thank you

  • Esmerelda says:

    A few days ago I fell down a few stairs and landed on my thigh. There is slight swelling and it still hurts when touched. The day after I started feeling pain in my lower leg and then it felt like it ways numb or having pressure put on it.

  • Kye says:

    Over the last couple of days I’ve had a severe pain between my spine and left shoulder blade. If I sit or lay in certain positions the pain lessens/seems to go. As soon as I move bam I’m in agony again. It’s much worse at night and only get a max of 4 hours sleep then wake up wanting to roll over but doing so causes excruciating pain. Would you have said this is a trapped nerve?

  • Michelle Ricciardone says:

    Woke up move to certain we received a shooting pain on the left side of my neck goes up to my head the pain is so severe I can barely move what can I do for it

  • Bethan Jones says:

    Im getting pain on my left bum cheek going down my left leg, I have had this for over a month now and its getting worse.

  • Bethan Jones says:

    Have pain on my left bum cheek going down my left leg went to bed last night with really bad pain and got up this morning and could not walk with the pain 🙁 please could you help me

  • Charles Herbert says:

    Hello Bethan, it sounds like you need to get that checked out. If you’re near our clinic we will happily examine you and tell you how we can help. If not then find a local Chiropractor to get yourself examined.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi , I’ve been experiencing real agony in my pelvic area inside my leg joining , also in my lower back. The pain is so bad , when I try so sit and bend my neck down slightly to look at the floor the pain gets worse in the bottom of my back and buttocks area ?? Help

  • Norma Wilson says:

    HI. HELP.
    EXCRUTISTING PAIN IN THE LEFTSIDE OF MY BACK.. I FEEL VERY NAUSIUS AND TIRED. WENT DOCS, CRYING IN AGONY. GAVE ME STONG CO CODEMOL 30/500 and stronger version of ibrofrofem. But they still do nothing for the pain. Judt make me feel ill.

  • Geoffrey Murray says:

    Hi, a few week’s ago i was getting nek ache when looking down,ie reading that sort o thing, i woke up one morning with a pain in my shoulder, collarbone area,this gradually got worse as i am employed as a hgv driver,turning my head to look right was agony.i have been off sick for 3 weeks ,doctors gave me naproxen,pain varies from back of neck,to down my arm ,with muscle weakness , ( cant lift my arm up ), i have visited a chiropractic centre 3 times ,it aleviates the pain for a short while ,then it returns .im now off work for 2 more weeks ,and still no better . Please help.

  • Dana says:

    My partner feels a pain around his right shoulder blade he thinks it’s a trapped nerve he also gets pins and needles in his right hand he finds it uncomfortable either sitting or lying in bed can you help many thanks

  • jen says:

    Hi sarah, i have the same thing. Sharp pain that is a dull ache in my left lower back just above my cheek. Have now had this for 3 years and nobody has given me any solution. I have it every day and its always worse at night even if i havent put any strain on it during the day. Let me know if you found any advice on this!

  • Jean says:

    Hi – In early December the day after one of my Zumba sessions, I started to get pain to one side of my hip, by early January the pain was in my calf muscle and my foot. Now I cannot stand for more that a couple of minutes. It is an acute pain in the muscle. I cannot do my Pilates class either. I have been told that it is a trapped nerve in F1 S5 (or the other way round), plus the xray showed I have arthritis in both hips. I am having physio, but need to know how long this pain could go on for. As normally I am very active. Any ideas?

  • Paul says:

    i have suffered with a pain in my right side for 7 years.

    Mostly around my kidney area, this last 6 months the pain has gone into my right buttock and right outer calf muscle.

    I’m 52, it keeps me awake at night and I’m in pain every day with it.
    The pain is like a knife cutting me , I have to get this sorted.

    Please help


  • Bruce Williams says:

    6 weeks ago my friends’ sciatic nerve got trapped whilst sweeping the floor, since then he has had scans and injections but hasn’t helped much, run out of sick pay and holiday leave, now on benefits, sleeps sitting up at the table with several pillows but still refuses to see a chiropractor because his doctor says ‘NO’ he does have some degenerative stuff going on as shown by the x-rays. Can a chiropractor release the nerve with manipulation and at least get him back to manageable ‘not perfect’ like before, thanks

  • Valerie says:

    severe pain in my lower back left hand side I can actually stick my finger into the area. I can’t stand properly most days an lean to the right side for ease an comfort in about 5stone over weight an have a personal trainer some times I’m in agony after working out but I don’t know if there is any other alternative remedies I cannot take pain killers with codeine any suggestions

  • valerie says:

    P. S get numbing sensations on each side of my thighs

  • Mia says:

    Hi Karina,

    I have woken up this morning with exactly the same symptoms!

    Did you find out what your pain was or how did you fix it?


  • Have I got a trapped nerve says:

    My right hand is burning my children threw a ball and it got me side on my hand. My little finger took the blow exactly the same thing happened in work a young person threw an object which I blocked with the same hand I near fainted. The pain was sharp burning like a nerve was pulled etc. I’ve had this for some months now it appears to be getting worse.
    I am now literally jumping out of my skin with the pain certain positions I hold my hand and it just comes in spasms right along the edge on my hand but the burning sensation is as though I’ve torn or ripped something along the knuckle area. I can move it bend etc. but once I move it floors me. Then it eases off. Thank you for your time Esther Baker

  • Emma Prior says:

    Woke up one morning where my leg was sleep and had pin and needles in it also my arm was numb and face was tingling but also have shooting pain in left side in shoulder could it be due to my accident I had numbness all started from then

  • Dennis Hedges says:

    Hi. I have a persistent numb yet painful feeling in my left calf and foot area. I also have soreness in left thigh area which can be painful to touch. Even the wearing of woollen track suit bottoms aggravate this. I did have a fall sometime ago and a trapped nerve has been blamed. As this complaint is non ending could there be any other reasons for this? Thank you.

  • Brenda says:

    Hi, I’ve had a constant pain in the base of my head on the right side for about 4-5 days now. It feels like it needs to click. It doesn’t hurt to move my head but it’s making me feel a bit dizzy, any ideas???

  • maureen defelice says:

    sharp pain getting up after sitting. the sharp pain went up my entire spine and a sharp pain into my head causing me to feel dizzy and wanting to pass out. I have had ice and heat and used the tens machine. what do you think is wrong?

  • Sally says:

    I have had really bad pains in my left arm for 10 days now. Sometimes the pain is excruciating, sometimes I have long gaps without any pain. I’m not really aware of pain in my shoulder or neck but my doctor thinks I have a trapped nerve. Currently on cocodomol but no real improvement. I was on a heavy dose of statins after a heart attack in January so wondered if it was side effects. However, the pain is relieved when I hold my arm above my head

  • julie mapp says:

    My left shoulder at the back is pained bad and think it a trapped nerve from what I have read help please

  • Frozen shoulder ( l think) says:

    l work as a teacher assistant but l also clean after school in the juniors. This involves alot of hoovering. I assume this is why l have a painful shoulder. It feels stiff too. Whenever l move in certain positions l can hear a clicking noise. It feels like a dull ache which affects my neck. Its impossible to get comfortable in bed. After a couple of weeks it seems to calm down. I take alot of medication for various other elements which includes strong pain killers for arthritis but l still take exra paracetamol when my shoulder flares up. How can l prevent it coming back?

  • Mia says:

    Hey I have a real sore back (right lower side) I am only 13 and it hurts every time I move I do gymnastics and I just want to k ow if there is any tips on how to resolve this pain? Thanks ☺️

  • Jean Lee says:

    I have had this Realy bad pain under the armpit towards middle of back just little Down from the shoulder blade can you tell me what this is I’m use hot water bottle deep heat painkillers but not going

  • J Speakman says:

    Since having an operation for a strangulated hernia in January, I have suffered lack of movement and a tingling sensation almost like an electric current when touched in my ring finger and little finger in my left hand. I have been told that it may be a trapped nerve caused by the length of the operation. Any suggestions please.

  • julie walker says:

    i have had sciatica for three weeks i am in agony the doctors told me i have nerve root pain its in my hip knee bottom and ankle i have never experienced so much agony i am doing mc kensie exercise and walking around and and heavy drugs i have had three pysio sessions the nerve is trapped will chiropractor help me furthur i am 56 years old and generally very fit this happened because i picked up something heavy, i am walking around all night and even sleeping when i can on the floor help please….

  • sheila jamieson says:

    Hi about 6 yrs ago i had operation on my right hand fir deupeton contracture. My 2 middle fungers were affected the most. It took a very lo g time to heal my fingers were weak for around 3 yrs. Last couple days i have terruble pain un these fingers they are stiff and i csn ot bend them . Is it related to the op or id it trapoed nerves . Thankyou

  • Donna walker says:

    I’ve had a trapped nerve in my hip for eight weeks now and it’s not getting any better. It really hurts to get up after sitting for a while. I fell down the stairs and landed on my bum and I felt like my spine was going to come through my head it was that much of a drop. Since then I’ve been in pain. Maybe I should go for an X-ray.

  • Olga Kirby says:

    When walking or moving about I get terable pain in top of my leg the pain can be so bad it makes me scream

  • Alison barber says:

    have numb skin on my thighs feel very cold all the time my feet are cold have very little strength in both legs poor balance and when I do stretches I get cramp thank you

  • Joan Bellingham says:

    Had a spin oppration on my back but I keep getting pain in my leg and electric shock down my leg what can I do it really hurts

  • Phyl says:

    I have a trapped nerve in my pelvis/hip and my leg is numb below the knee to the ankle. I have trouble going up and down steps and my knee is very stiff. I have had some trouble with my knee for some months. I have had the trapped nerve problem 6 weeks now. What can I do to speed up recovery?

  • Stephanie Willcock says:

    For the past 5 days i have had increasing pain in my lower back and top of legs at the front, having pain look electric shock every time a move suddenly, pain is at it worst first thing in the morning, ive been taking pain killers and putting heat patch on lower back.

  • gary says:

    hi i have a trapped nerve in top part of my back the pain going under my arm pit down my arm

  • vikki says:

    I’ve got this pain in my shoulder I’ve had it for three days now. I’m pretty certain it’s a trapped nerve but I’m not 100% sure. I also have pain going down my arm and making my shoulder blade ache and my fingers ache too. Any ideas what it could be?
    Kind regards,


  • Bev Chapman says:

    For several weeks now I have been getting a tingling sensation in my fingers and feet. Its not constant and comes and goes. Sometimes its gone for a week or too and then comes back and last for a few days.
    I have pain in the back of my neck and upper arms. Could this be a nerve problem ?

  • C C says:

    please call 0117 9741 501

  • Steve says:

    slipped in padling pool in Benidorm landed on my cox it arse, been in pain ever since. Pain in right bum cheek and down right leg.knee, ankle. In to foot, tried hot cream, cold cream. Aspirin, strong paracetamol. Must note, did brake fibulae right side and smashed my r/knee bike accident 1983 pain is unbearable any ideas. Is this the end of life as I new it
    Suffered now for 4 weeks. My age 59

  • Emma says:

    Following surgery removing a cyst in my neck I have had severe pain which now is controlled with tablets as that’s all the doctor can do apparently. Had this for 3 years now, have trouble lifting my arms above head and have pins and needles in arms as well as constant headaches. Told have to live with it as surgery too risky.

  • Anthonybarlow says:

    since returning from holiday I’ve had numbness and lack of strength in my right arm and hand

  • ken davis says:

    5 days ago I got a sharp pain by my right shoulder blade, this has progressed to giving pain in my shoulder and acute pain in my right elbow. I have been taken narproxen, co-codamol and morphine. over he last 2 days I have also taken Diazepam prescribed by my doctor with what seems to be little effect. I have back problems for over 30 years.

  • David Robertson says:

    I have a tingling and buzzing between my rhomboid and shoulder blade on the left hand side with slight nip on my rotator cuff. Gets worse when I sit with my elbows on my knees . Am I doomed ? Docs and sports therapist didn’t help. Any advice please

  • Jayne Honnor says:

    Hi I had a total hip replacement last year on my left hip caused by oestoarthritus everything went great and I went to a family wedding 10days after,this year I had my right hip done and was doing the excercises and also went to hip classes,at the end of july I got out of bed and bang my right leg was like a piece of concrete and the pain went all the way up to my thigh,i went back to the surgeon and he said that it was either a trapped nerve or an infection, I am seeing him next week for a MRI and a Scan,if I hadent had my left one done I would have thought that it was normal after a Hip replacement,so that’s why I am having to be in sooo much pain,its been almost 6months now and I have a build up of tissue in my left foot now because I have been putting all my weight on my left leg,i am so fed up with this pain.

  • Trish Cahill says:

    Hi everyone if anyone could give me some advice i be so thankful. I a. 53 year old lady always very fit. Last 2 years i am getting bad lower back pain afection both my legs really bad causing weakenss pins needles weird sensation to touch my legs and then left leg gettings pain shoot down from my left butt. But now my arms are also afected bad to the point i no strenth feeling of weakenss i cant sleep pain so bad feel like i am getting weaker with it to even get out bed to use bathroom i am hardly abel to walk can anyone tell me what this could be also right side my neck is swelled tender to touch.

  • Trish Cahill says:

    Also for got to say i get really bad burrning all true lower back and in to both legs like there on fire.feel like i cant do nothing cos its taken control of my body.

  • Brian Beck says:

    I’m coming up to 82 and have spodalotis in the bottom part of my spine whitch is trapping the nerves and coursing heat in my left leg,I can feel one small part in the left buttock that is coursing the trouble,if I put rub on it or a heat patchit helps for a couple of hours (patch longer) also taking co-codamol 30/500 helps a lot but gives me problems with my bells,sleepping is not good if I get two hours a time thats it then I’m up and walking around becouse of the heat not on the outside of the leg on the inside I’m sure I could cook an egg on in the bed.
    I have had exrays and the doctor seems to think an mri would show no more to my problem,also my left hipp is on its way out,I have been in the building trade all my life and the heavy work is what has coursed the problem. I have been visitting a Chiropractor for the last 40 years on and of (David Evans of Solihull) who has been a great help over the years,he feels a mri may help but the one thing he keeps telling me I need to slow down, I’m the kind who has to be doing things,( just fitted a new kitchen) I do realalise I have to slow down.
    My reason for this mail is to get a secound appinium
    Maney thanks Brian Beck..(sorry about bad spelliing)

  • Charles Davies says:

    Great article, thank you for explaining it to me

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