Any injury to the hand that cuts, stretches, or places pressure on a nerve can result in significant pain or a loss of sensation and often requires nerve repair surgery to correct.
The surgeons at the Hand Surgery Center of Excellence are highly skilled in various hand procedures and can help determine the most effective course of treatment for your nerve injury. When surgery is the best option, we take pride in offering the most advanced and cutting edge techniques in order to provide our patients with unparalleled surgical outcomes.
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Symptoms of Nerve Damage
Nerves are important to the functionality of the hand, in that they give sensation to the hand and fingers and relay these signals back to the brain. Nerve damage due to pressure or stretching may cause intense sensation and pain, known as neuralgia, while severed nerves often result in a complete loss of sensation to part of the hand and fingers. Moreover, muscles that are connected to the damaged nerve may become weak and unresponsive.
If left untreated, nerve damage may cause the formation of highly painful scar tissue called a neuroma. It is important to consult an expert hand surgeon at the earliest signs of nerve damage in the hand or fingers.
Diagnosing Nerve Damage
Nerve damage is diagnosed using the Nerve Conduction Velocity/EMG test. With this device, our surgeons can assess the speed and quality of signal transmission through nerves in your hand. In some cases, MRI imaging may be conducted to confirm the location of the nerve injury or to evaluate possible damage to other structures in the hand.
Our hand surgeons work closely with each patient to determine the most effective course of treatment for a hand injury. Patients with minor nerve damage, in which the outer protective nerve sheath remains in tact, usually do not require surgery. In cases where a nerve has been cut, surgery is required to reconnect the nerve fibers and restore sensation and muscle function in the hand.
Nerve Repair Surgery
Each nerve consists of a bundle of tiny nerve fibers surrounded by a protective nerve sheath. The goal of nerve repair surgery is to reconnect the severed nerve sheath so that the damaged nerve fibers are close enough to heal. Depending on the extent of injury and retraction of the nerve, our surgeons may utilize three different repair techniques:
- Repair with sutures – If the ends of the severed nerve are close enough to be reconnected without placing tension on the nerve, the nerve sheath will be joined with sutures.
- Repair with nerve conduit – If a portion of the nerve is missing or the ends have retracted extensively, a nerve conduit can be used to reconnect the nerve. The conduit is a soft, absorbable tube, which is sewed to the nerve sheath ends, facilitating nerve fiber healing and reconnection within the tube.
- Repair with nerve graft – Injuries to large nerves in the hand often require the use of a nerve graft, typically obtained from a portion of nerve in the back of the lower leg. Once the bundle of nerve fibers in the graft has been aligned with fibers in the damaged nerve ends, the two are connected with fine sutures.
Repair of nerve damage in the hand and fingers is a meticulous procedure and should only be performed by an experienced hand surgeon. At the Hand Surgery Center of Excellence, our fellowship-trained hand surgeons have attended some of the most prestigious medical institutions and are highly experienced in nerve repair and complex reconstruction.
Recovery from Nerve Repair Surgery
Our hand surgeons can often perform nerve repair on an outpatient basis, allowing our patients to return home within 24 hours of surgery. After nerve repair surgery, the hand and fingers are immobilized in a splint to promote healing. An initial prickly sensation or hypersensitivity of the hand is normal, and may last for several weeks as the nerve fibers heal. Hand therapy will be needed to help relieve this hypersensitivity and to regain function and sensation in the hand.
Contact an Expert Hand Surgeon
The Hand Surgery Center of Excellence offers renowned orthopedic and plastic surgeons specializing in the comprehensive treatment of hand conditions. If you have any questions or are experiencing symptoms of a nerve injury, contact our hand surgeons in Los Angeles by calling (888) 529-1873 or through the appointment scheduling form on our website.
Next, read frequently asked questions about hand surgery.