Hand and Microsurgery Associates
Nerve Repair Q & A
Why would I need to undergo nerve repair?
Nerve repair is a procedure you might need if you damage the nerves in your hand, arm, or shoulder.
Nerves are small bundles of fibers that carry messages between your brain and your body. Some nerves are responsible for telling muscles to move. Others send back information to your brain from all around your body. These are the nerves that provide sensory information — feelings like pain, heat, coldness, and pressure, as well as all the other physical feelings you get.
Your spinal cord, which runs down inside your spine, is the hub for all your nerves. Smaller nerves branch off from your spinal cord and reach every part of your body.
What problems does nerve damage cause?
Nerve damage has two primary effects. First, it can make it difficult to carry out certain actions, such as lifting or writing, because the message from your brain can’t get through to the muscles in your hand or arm.
Secondly, nerve damage can cause a range of unpleasant physical feelings, including:
- Pins-and-needles sensations
Pain is a common feature of nerve damage. Pain might be sharp or shooting if the nerve is badly damaged, or it could be throbbing and aching if the nerve is under pressure.
Can nerves repair themselves?
Compressed nerves can repair themselves once the pressure is relieved. For instance, if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, the median nerve in your wrist is under pressure because of thickened tissues in the bony carpal tunnel.
There are several ways of relieving this pressure, including using splints, physical therapy, and steroid injections. These treatments can help heal the median nerve and resolve symptoms like pain, numbness, and weakness.
Severed nerves typically require surgery, as the two ends of the nerves don’t rejoin and heal as they can with other tissues. The expert team at Hand and Microsurgery Associates specializes in performing the intricate surgery required to repair damaged nerves.
What is involved in nerve repair?
Nerve repair is a delicate procedure requiring exceptional skill and expertise. The Hand and Microsurgery Associates team uses several approaches, depending on the nature of the damage and which nerve is involved. Techniques include:
Your surgeon reconnects the two severed ends of the nerve. Suitable if there’s less than 2cm between the nerve ends, and it’s possible to suture them without causing excessive tension.
This involves using human tissue to carry out nerve repair. The tissue could come from another part of your body (autograft) or a donor (allograft). Nerve grafting can be an effective method when the severed nerve ends are too far apart to rejoin them.
Conduits use human tissue that doesn’t come from nerves, for example, veins, or artificial substances like silicon.
If surgery isn’t an option, physical therapy can help you retain muscle tone and range of motion.
Call Hand and Microsurgery Associates today to find out more about nerve repair or book an appointment.