Minimally Invasive Nerve Surgery: What to Expect

Minimally Invasive Nerve Surgery: What to Expect

Posted on 11/27/2023

Nerve injuries and compression can cause pain, numbness, and loss of function. Minimally invasive nerve surgery is a way to treat nerve problems through tiny incisions. This type of surgery has a faster recovery time than open surgery. If you are considering minimally invasive nerve surgery, it helps to understand what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

Before Surgery


Your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your medical history. You may need tests like an MRI, CT scan, or nerve conduction study. These tests help locate the compressed or damaged nerve and plan the surgery.

Tell your doctor about any medications you take. Some may need to be stopped temporarily before surgery. Your doctor may ask you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery.

Day of Surgery


Minimally invasive nerve surgery usually occurs on an outpatient basis. You must arrive at the surgery center a few hours before your scheduled surgery time. Nurses will insert an IV line and prepare the surgical site on your skin.

Your doctor will review the surgery plan with you and answer any last-minute questions. They will then take you to the operating room and give you anesthesia.

During Surgery


The doctor will make one or two small incisions near the compressed nerve. The incisions are less than an inch long. The doctor inserts a tiny camera through one incision, allowing them to see inside.

Small surgical tools go into the other incision. They use these tools to free the compressed nerve gently. If needed, they may remove some bone or tissue pressing on the nerve. The surgery may take approximately two hours, depending on the affected nerve.

After Surgery


After the procedure, they will move you to a recovery area to wake up from anesthesia. Nurses will monitor your vital signs. It would be best if you rested for a few hours before you go home. Ensure you have someone with you for the first 24 hours after surgery.

You will have small bandages over the tiny incision sites. There may be some minor pain, swelling, or bruising that you can manage with medication. Avoid heavy activity while you recover. Most people can return to light daily activities within a week.


Recovery Timeline


Here is an approximate timeline for recovering after minimally invasive nerve surgery:

  • Days 1-7: Rest at home. Take pain medications as directed. Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Week 2: Return for a follow-up appointment. The doctor will check your incisions and progress. They may remove the stitches.
  • Week 3: Discomfort should be subsiding. Swelling continues to decrease.
  • Weeks 4-6: Gradual return to regular activities. Start with light exercise.
  • 2 Months: At this point, many patients have fully recovered. They no longer have any restrictions on their activities.

Potential Risks


While less risky than open surgery, there are some potential complications to be aware of:

  • Bleeding or infection at the incision sites.
  • Nerve injury or damage.
  • Persistent pain, numbness, or weakness.

Discuss risks thoroughly with your doctor before scheduling the surgery. Follow all pre- and postoperative instructions carefully to reduce risks. Report any concerning symptoms after surgery promptly.

If you have nerve-related pain or neurological symptoms, ask your doctor if minimally invasive surgery may help. Make sure you understand the complete process, from preparation through recovery. Following postoperative care instructions can promote better outcomes.

For more on nerve surgery, visit East Bay Hand & Upper Extremity at our office in Oakland, California. Call 510-904-1100 to schedule an appointment today.


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