Hundreds of nerves run throughout the body, conveying impulses of sensation and motion between the brain and the body’s various regions. There are four nerves that extend into the hand. Any of these nerves can be damaged through injury, causing pain, numbness, pressure. Physical trauma can also lead to loss of physical function or movement. Hand therapy or surgery can help to restore movement and function.
Contact us online 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, a procedure is not often needed in these cases.
If the nerve and the protective sheath are both damaged, a procedure 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 a procedure, the nerve fibers can form a painful scar called a neuroma while trying to heal on their own.
Recovery and Results
After a procedure, 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 a procedure, it’s important to be careful during healing. Without nerve sensation, a person may not realize if a superficial injury occurs, and needs to assess this information visually instead.
The results of a procedure depends on a number of factors including the extent of the nerve injury, overall health of the person and where the nerve is located. Most people experience a return of normal sensation and function after a procedure is complete. 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.