The nerves are the wiring system that transmits electrical impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the fingertips. Each nerve is similar to a telephone or electrical cable, made up of bundles of nerve fibers – each with an outer layer of tissue called myelin that protects the nerve bundle. Nerves can be motor or sensory. Motor nerves travel from the spinal cord to muscles for movement. Sensory nerves travel from the fingers and skin toward the spinal cord to provide sensation and feeling. Most nerves have both sensory and motor fibers.
What is a nerve?
What is a nerve injury?
Anything that disrupts the integrity of the nerve can cause an injury. A nerve can be cut by something like a knife or a sliver from a fractured bone. Alternatively, excessive pressure on a nerve can cause damage – such as Carpal Tunnel. Diseases like multiple sclerosis can damage the myelin covering the nerve and diseases such as diabetes can cause changes within nerves. In all cases, nerve injury can result in numbness, tingling, pain, and loss of motor function or movement.
Nerve Injury Specialists
Nerve injuries in the hand and arm can cause pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness or paralysis, thereby limiting daily activities at work and home. Dr. Leonard Gordon is an orthopedic hand specialist who treats nerve injuries in the hand and upper extremity at Hand and Microsurgery Medical Group for residents of San Francisco, California
What are the symptoms of nerve injury?
Nerve injuries result in altered sensations (such as numbness and tingling), or problems with movement. Depending on which nerves are affected and how serious the injury is, the patient may report weakness and difficulty moving fingers, wrists or elbows – and even the inability to move at all. If a nerve injury is not treated, the nerves inside the empty myelin “sleeve” may try to re-grow but are unable to connect to the opposite end. This can result in the formation of a nerve scar, called a neuroma, which can be very painful and cause an electrical shock feeling when touched.
One Hand at a Time
Nerves are tiny, complex parts of the body that serve an extremely vital function. It takes great skill to successful treat injured nerves.
A nerve injury that involves stretching or pressure is treated by correcting the pressure problem, such as in Carpal tunnel syndrome. When the nerve is cut or torn, the outer sheath of the nerve must be repaired. This requires the use of an operating microscope to correctly re-connect the nerve bundles. Dr. Gordon specializes in this type of microsurgical repair. The nerve fibers can then grow down the empty nerve tubes to restore function. Sometimes, there is a large segment of nerve missing and in these situations specialized nerve conduits or nerve grafts are needed to bridge the gap by splicing into the nerve at both ends. The nerve then regenerates at about an inch a month as it grows down the nerve tube
Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that affects the limbs. They occur due to damage to the nerves in the extremities of the hands and feet. Common signs of neuropathy are numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes, pain and loss of movement in the hands and feet.
Just like other nerve injuries, peripheral neuropathy can occur due to injuries illnesses and excessive pressure on the nerves. But one of the most common causes for peripheral neuropathy is diabetes.
At the Hand and Microsurgery Medical Group, Dr. Leonard Gordon, MD and Dr. Joshua Gordon, MD first try to treat peripheral neuropathy using non-surgical interventions. A nerve biopsy may be done to identify the condition or to examine its severity. Usually medications like pain relievers, anti-seizure medications and topical numbing creams may be prescribed. If these don’t help alleviate the symptoms, our doctors may prescribe microsurgery to treat the damaged nerve.
Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy
If you undergo surgery, you will be advised to rest your hand for a few weeks. Numbness and tingling reduce slowly after the surgery and your hand should feel much better in a few weeks. Overall it takes between 6 months to a year for your peripheral neuropathy to heal completely. You may need to attend physical therapy to regain complete use of your hands and feet.
The doctors at our medical center are highly-experienced orthopedic surgeons and they are equipped to treat peripheral neuropathy. Give us a call today.