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Can a Pinched Nerve Cause Dizziness?

By Contributing Writer ; Updated July 27, 2017

Dysfunction of Nerves

Pinched nerves occur at the base of the spine, and cause numbness in the legs. They can also occur in the neck, causing dizziness (or a loss of balance). Dizziness occurs because the pinched nerves in the base of the neck are connected directly to the brain. This compression of the nerve prevents signals from reaching the brain, including a sense of balance, referred to as a loss of equilibrium. Often pain is associated with a pinched nerve.

Pinched nerves occur in primarily somewhere along the spine, and usually manifest in the lower back or base of the neck. Pain in the neck commonly spreads through the arms if a nerve is pinched at the base of the neck.

Common Symptoms of Nerve Disorders

Consult a doctor if you have prolonged dizziness or frequent episodes of unbalance. If your dizziness is accompanied by sensations of numbness in the hands, tingling fingers or loss of strength in one of your arms, then you may have a case of Thoracic outlet syndrome. This syndrome occurs as a result of nerves and blood vessels becoming compressed due to a lack of passage between the base of the neck and the armpit.

Muscles and bones surrounding the thoracic outlet become enlarged. This enlargement of muscle or movement of body tissues will often result in shoulder and arm pain. Occasionally, there is a blockage to blood circulation. Obesity, muscle enlargement (caused by body building or lifting heavy objects), or an extra neck rib by birth defect can lead to Thoracic outlet syndrome. To avoid irritating your symptoms, discontinue weight lifting or bodybuilding exercises. Do only light exercise if you need to lose weight. Avoid lifting anything above your head. Do not place your arms above or behind your head while sleeping. Keep your arms down at your sides while resting on your back or side. Do not sleep on your stomach.


In the case of Thoracic outlet syndrome, surgeons open up the thoracic outlet, remove tissues that are causing the pressure on the nerves, and allow time for the nerves to heal naturally. Cubital tunnel syndrome is when the nerve is pinched along the elbow, leading to numbness or pain in the forearm, ring finger, and little finger. Cubital tunnel can be treated by having the patient wear a brace over the arm, and preventing the elbow from moving (which limits stress on the nerves and reduces the pull of the ulnar nerve). Carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and numbness in the wrists) can be treated by wearing a cast which prevents wrist movement. Surgery becomes necessary when a patient loses control of the bowel/ bladder, or if muscles are extraordinarily weak or do not function. A pinched nerve in the neck which is the primary cause for dizziness can be relieved of pressure by surgically removing some of the bone that is causing the nerve compression.

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