The nerves in our bodies create an essential connection between the brain and the skin or muscles. Signals from the brain are sent via these nerve fibres to perform a particular action. Unfortunately, nerve damage is pretty common, and it can affect your daily life if not treated.
Which nerves are involved in hand nerve damage?
The nerve damage of the upper limb and the hands can be localised any one of the following: cervical spine, median nerve, ulnar nerve, radial nerve or the brachial plexus.
What can cause damage to the nerves of the hand?
There are several reasons for nerve injury. Nerves in the upper limb could be stretched, crushed or compressed. Sometimes a tumour in the nerve fibre can affect the function of it. Inflammation associated with chronic illnesses like diabetes can also cause damage to the nerves.
How do I know if I have nerve damage?
Typically injury to the nerve can cause an abnormal tingling sensation in the hands and fingers. It can also cause the hand to become numb. In more severe cases of nerve injury, you might experience pain, weakness and even complete paralysis.
How is hand nerve damage diagnosed?
A complete history of the symptoms can give a clue to the diagnosis. Examination of the motor system of the upper limb can also help establish the diagnosis.
To confirm the diagnosis of nerve damage, you will need to get some tests done. EMG or nerve conduction study will not only confirm the diagnosis but also determine the extent of the injury. In this test electrodes are placed on the hands and arms of the patient and the signal transmission is assessed.
Other diagnostic tests are imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI scan or ultrasound.
Peripheral Nerve Surgery
If the injury is mild, the nerve damage will usually heal on its own. But if the damage is severe and the nerve is crushed, then surgery will be needed. There are multiple surgical approaches to repair a damaged nerve.
In cutting nerve injuries, the ends of the damaged nerves are stitched back together using micro-threads. This is called the direct microsurgical repair of nerves.
Some surgeons will prefer to use a nerve graft instead especially if the nerve has suffered from a crushing injury. In this technique, a part of a healthy nerve is excised and used to repair the damaged nerve. A healthy nerve can also be used to bypass the injured nerve. This is called a nerve transfer.
Depending upon the nature of your injury the appropriate treatment option will be considered for you.
How long does it take to recover fully?
Nerve repair is a slow process, and you can expect improvement in function after about two weeks of surgery. When the nerve is damaged extensively, surgery will only help to improve the function of the nerve, but complete recovery is unlikely.