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Are Pinched Nerves Common?

Are pinched nerves common? Yes, unfortunately. But just how common are they? Let’s take a look.

Are pinched nerves common?

Nerves are highly sensitive. They have to be. They help us feel what is going on around us. In this way, they protect us.

Just imagine if you didn’t have the ability to feel things and interpret those feelings with your brain. What if you put your hand on a hot stove? You wouldn’t feel anything and would have no reason to move your hand. You’d probably end up with a bad burn. This is just one way in which our nerves help protect us.

However, because nerves are so sensitive, they can also trigger pain. If a nerve is compressed or pinched by a bone, ligament, or anything else in the body, our brain will interpret it as pain. And, because they are so good at carrying information up and down their long neural networks, that pain can radiate to other places.

Are Pinched Nerves Common?

Are pinched nerves common? In a word, yes. Ever heard of carpal tunnel? Sciatica? Have you ever had a “crick in your neck”? These are all pinched nerves, just in different areas of your body.

So just how common are pinched nerves?

Many researchers have studied these conditions but their reports vary considerably with respect to their frequency. This variation can be due to how each defined pinched nerve, how they compared data or from which populations they took statistics. In fact, researchers identified that the data was inconsistent and have made efforts to standardize definitions in the medical field.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers for the frequency of pinched nerves associated with the spine.

Pinched Nerve in the Neck

Starting at the top of the spine on area where people often experience a pinched nerve is in their neck. You may have heard people refer to this as having a “crick in their neck”. The medical term is cervical radiculopathy.

Research suggests that less than 1% of the population will be diagnosed with a pinched nerve in the neck.

The Middle Back

Pinched nerve in the middle back is far less common than pinched nerves in the upper (neck) or lower spine areas. In fact, it is so uncommon that not much literature exists about its frequency.

Pinched Nerve in the Lower Spine (Sciatica)

A pinched nerve in the lower spine affects the sciatic nerve. Irritation of this nerve can cause sharp pains to radiate down the leg(s). It’s often referred to as sciatica. So how many people suffer from sciatica? Anywhere from 3-43% of the population according to a literature review done by the Washington State Health Care Authority.



*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery