Can Nerves Be Repaired?

Can Nerves Be Repaired?

Posted on 01/31/2021

Damaged nerves can be repaired, depending on the type of nerve, the injury, and the extent of the damage. If the nerve is only injured and not cut, it will most likely heal by itself. Nerves that are completely severed are difficult to treat, and some may never recover fully. But, hand surgery may improve the outcome for many cases of nerve damage.


Nerves May Heal on Their Own


Nerves repair themselves naturally. After an injury, the axons, the fibrous-looking structures shrink back and “take a break” for some time. After about a month, the axons start to grow again, 1mm each day. But, you can reduce the length of the recovery period through surgical repair.


If you fail to have surgery, the nerve fibers may still grow, and the ends find one another. But, the natural healing results in a cluster of nerve endings called a neuroma. A neuroma is tender to touch and pressure. Many people say neuromas cause them constant discomfort.


See a Hand Surgeon


When you visit a hand surgeon, he begins by examining you and your medical history. He inquiries about any accidents, surgeries, or symptoms you’ve had. A neurological is necessary because it confirms that your nerves have been damaged. After confirmation, the surgeon conducts diagnostic tests.


Some of the tests you may undergo include:


Nerve conduction study: It involves placing two electrodes on opposite sides of the body to determine how well your nerves transmit electrical signals.


Electromyography (EMG): For this test, the doctor inserts a thin needle electrode in your muscles to record electrical activity therein, at rest, and when in motion. If there’s reduced muscle activity, your nerves have had an injury.


Based on the above tests, the doctor will know the extent of your injury and how the healing is progressing.


If your nerve has been healing well on its own, you may not need surgery. He or she may only ask you to rest the injured area until you are fully recovered. You only need to have checkups regularly to ensure that your recovery is on track.


If your nerves got damaged due to an underlying condition, you must treat the underlying condition first to prevent a recurrence. You may also need some pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or corticosteroid injections. Medication for seizures, depression, and insomnia also helps to bring down nerve pain. The doctor may also recommend physical therapy to bring down the stiffness and to bring back function.


Surgical Intervention


If the doctor determines that your injury is not healing correctly, he may recommend surgery. Sometimes, a nerve cannot heal because it is sitting in a tight space or getting pressure from the scarring. During the surgery, the surgeon takes away the damaged section and reconnects the healthy nerve ends. He may also implant a section of a nerve taken from a different part of your body. The procedure is called nerve grafting. Then, the nerve starts to regrow.


Surgery is also used to restore function for nerves in critical muscles. The doctor transfers nerve tendons from one muscle to the other. You may also take up therapy treatments to restore function in the affected muscles. They include electrical stimulation, physical therapy, splints or braces, and exercise.


Find out if your nerves can be repaired & treatments available, contact East Bay Hand and Upper Extremity in Oakland, California at (510) 904-1100.


Please contact us today to schedule an appointment or get more information about our hand and upper extremity surgical services.