What Happens When Nerves in My Hand Become Damaged?

What Happens When Nerves in My Hand Become Damaged?

Posted on 02/16/2021

Your hands are composed of a network of bones, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. All these components are complementary to each other. But, your nerves are the ultimate determinant of the use of your hands. They allow you to touch and feel. Thus, damage to the nerves has a debilitating effect on your use of hands.


Trauma, in the form of a cut, burns, crushing, or overly stretching your hand, can damage your nerve endings. Infections and illnesses may also damage the nerves. The effect runs from your fingertips to your shoulders. This area of the body is called the upper extremity.


How to Know That You Have Nerve Damage


You will know that your nerves have suffered damage by the following signs in your arm, shoulder, or neck:


  • Reduced sensation in your hand and forearm

  • Difficulty extending your wrist

  • Reduced muscle tone in the arm, hand, or upper arm

  • Changes in the sweating pattern in your arm, hand, or forearm

  • Loss of function in the hand, forearm, or upper arm

  • Sensitivity to touch

  • Weakness

  • A jabbing or stabbing pain


Nerve Damage Risk Factors


Some factors increase the possibility of nerve damage. They include:


  • Vitamin B and E deficiencies

  • Infections like HIV/AIDS, Lyme diseases, hepatitis C, shingles, and Epstein-Barr

  • Bone marrow disorders

  • Chemotherapy

  • Toxins exposure, especially exposure to chemicals and heavy metals

  • Constant physical stress on a particular part, such as from occupational activities like sports

  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Diabetes especially when the sugar levels keep varying


Occasionally, you may notice your hands and wrists becoming sore and painful. But, this is not to say that you have a hand or nerve injury. Some everyday activities may cause swelling. For example, typing on a computer, using a smartphone, or carrying a heavy bag on your shoulders may stress your hands. Sports like tennis and golf may also cause soreness and muscle pain.


However, suppose your symptoms do not improve after rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. In that case, you may need to see a hand surgeon to rule out possible nerve injuries like Dupuytren’s Contracture and carpal tunnel syndrome.




A bruised nerve heals by itself. But, if the nerve is crushed or cut, you may need surgical intervention to aid healing. Treatment improves or restores function to your hand. It also relieves you of the uncomfortable symptoms of nerve damage.


Your treatment starts with the doctor ordering some diagnostic tests for you. They include X-rays, electrodiagnostic nerve studies, and an MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound. These tests add to the precision of the diagnosis and treatment plan.


Seeing that some underlying conditions cause nerve damage, the primary treatment for cases like these is to control the underlying condition. If your case needs the help of a specialist, the hand surgeon may direct you to one.


The doctor may also prescribe pain relievers to bring down your painful symptoms. If your nerves are healing well on their own, pain relievers are adequate.


If your condition needs surgical intervention, the arm surgeon proceeds to offer it. The surgery is minimally invasive, and you could have it on the same day. The sooner you get treated, the better the chances of recovery.


Learn more about what to do if you have nerve damage & treatments, contact East Bay Hand and Upper Extremity in Oakland, CA at (510) 904-1100.


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