At Mayo Clinic, your treatment team will include doctors trained in nervous system conditions (neurologists) and in repairing nervous system structures (neurosurgeons or orthopedic surgeons). Other specialists also work with your team and you to determine the most appropriate treatment for your injuries.
If your nerve is injured but not divided in two, the team will assess whether the nerve is healing.
- If your nerve is healing properly, you may not need surgical repair. You may need to rest the affected area until it's healed.
- You'll need regular checkups to make sure your recovery continues to its maximum potential.
- If your condition is due to another medical condition, your doctor will treat the underlying condition.
- Depending on the type and severity of your nerve injury, you may need medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to relieve your pain. In some cases, you may need corticosteroid injections to relieve your pain.
- Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to prevent stiffness and restore function.
If one of your peripheral nerves fails to heal properly, your surgeon can use electromyography (EMG) testing in the operating room to assess whether scarred nerves are recovering. Doing an EMG test directly on the nerve is more accurate and reliable than doing the test over the skin.
Sometimes a section of a nerve is cut completely or damaged beyond repair. Your surgeon can remove the damaged section and reconnect healthy nerve ends (nerve repair) or implant a piece of nerve from another part of your body (nerve graft). These procedures can help your nerves to regrow.
Sometimes your surgeon can borrow another working nerve to make an injured nerve work (nerve transfer).
If you have a particularly severe nerve injury or one that has been untreated for a long time, your doctor may suggest surgery to restore function to critical muscles by transferring tendons from one muscle to another.
A number of treatments can help restore function to the affected muscles.
March 20, 2014
- Braces or splints. These devices help hold the affected limb, fingers, hand or foot in the proper position to improve muscle function.
- Electrical stimulator. Stimulators can activate muscle served by an injured nerve while the nerve regrows. However, this treatment may not be effective for everyone. Your doctor will discuss electrical stimulation with you if it's an option.
- Physical and occupational therapy. Therapy involves specific movements or exercises to keep your affected muscles and joints active. Physical therapy can prevent stiffness and help to restore function and feeling.
- Exercise. Exercise can help improve your muscle strength, maintain your range of motion and reduce muscle cramps.
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/peripheralneuropathy.htm. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- NINDS pinched nerve information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/pinchednerve/pinchednerve.htm. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Peripheral neuropathy. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/peripheral_nervous_system_and_motor_unit_disorders/peripheral_neuropathy.html?qt=peripheral%20neuropathy&alt=sh. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of upper extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of lower extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 25, 2013.
- NINDS brachial plexus injuries information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/brachial_plexus/brachial_plexus.htm. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Oct. 25, 2013.
- Giuffre JL, et al. Current concepts of the treatment of adult brachial plexus injuries. The Journal of Hand Surgery. 2010;35:678.
- Pain: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/chronic_pain/detail_chronic_pain.htm. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.