The term “trapped nerve” can have different meanings for different people.
The term “trapped nerve” is often used to describe a “Radiculopathy”, which is pain, weakness, numbness, or difficulty controlling specific muscles, which can originate anywhere along the spine. This is caused by mechanical compression of a nerve, often as it exits the spine. This is commonly due to muscle tension, spinal disc bulges, or inflammation from facet joint (a small joint of the spine) irritation or degeneration.
Pain or other symptoms often radiate to the part of the body which the nerve innervates. In the neck, you may feel symptoms in your arms, if it is in your mid back you may experience rib pain, or in the low back you may experience issues in the legs or buttocks (sciatica).
Sometimes people use the term “trapped nerve” to describe sharp pain on movement, such as looking over the shoulder or leaning backwards. There are many different reasons for this type of pain or discomfort. It is due to the multiple reasons for pain that an accurate diagnosis is essential in formulating a treatment plan and getting effective treatment.