Nerves work as the message delivery system from the brain to the rest of the body. When a nerve is damaged by injury or trauma, the results can range from loss of sensation to loss of movement. For men and women with nerve injuries, a combination of hand therapy and surgery can help reduce symptoms and normal movement again.
Contact us online today to learn more about nerve injury repair options. The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas helps men and women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas restore function with reconstructive hand surgery.
Understanding Nerve Injuries
Nerves are a made of a bundled group of fibers encased in a protective sheath, just like an electrical wire. When the brain needs a muscle to move, it sends the message along a nerve. Sensations like pressure, pain or temperature changes are also transmitted along nerves. The information sent back and forth via the spinal cord helps the brain regulate and control all the parts of the body in response to the environment.
Injury or trauma can damage a nerve enough that the messages become scrambled, transmitting feelings of random numbness and tingling, or sensations of constant pain. In other cases, messages can no longer be sent at all. Without enough information, the brain has problems regulating the rest of the body. This can cause problems with physical movement and sensation.
Nerve Injury Treatment
The treatment approach for a nerve injury depends on how the nerve is affected. For example, if the inner part of the nerve is damaged but the protective covering remains intact, only part of the nerve dies. The nerve ending closest to the brain remains alive, and regrowth occurs on its own. Although hand therapy or wearing a splint may still be recommended, surgery is not often needed in these cases.
If the nerve and the protective sheath are both damaged, surgery is necessary for recovery. During the procedure, the sheath is repaired to encourage the nerve’s natural regrowth within. If the nerve has been completely severed enough to leave a gap between nerve endings, a nerve graft may be used. Without surgery, the nerve fibers can form a painful scar called a neuroma while trying to heal on their own.
Recovery and Results
After surgery, nerve growth begins within just a few weeks. Nerves grow at an approximate rate of one inch per month. As the nerve regrows, it’s common to notice a “pins and needles” sensation in the affected extremities. This is considered a good sign of progress and recovery, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.
If there is a total lack of feeling before surgery, it’s important to be careful during healing. Without nerve sensation, the patient may not realize if a superficial injury occurs, and needs to assess this information visually instead.
The results of surgery depend on a number of factors including the extent of the nerve injury, overall health of the patient and where the nerve is located. Most patients experience a return of normal sensation and function after surgery. Wearing a splint is recommended in order to stabilize the area and encourage proper healing. Hand therapy is often incorporated as part of the recovery process to help encourage sensory recovery.
Contact us online today to learn more about your nerve injury treatment options. The Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery of Central Texas helps men and women from Austin, Round Rock and throughout Texas enjoy a pain-free life again through hand surgery.