Nerve Surgery for Neuropathy Pain

Peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common types of peripheral nerve disorders. There are many different risk factors associated with developing peripheral neuropathy. Two of the most common ones include diabetes (diabetic polyneuropathy) and hypothyroidism. On the other hand, many people with no known risk factors can still develop the disease (idiopathic neuropathy).

Peripheral neuropathy typically affects the feet and hands. It may develop gradually or very quickly. The symptoms usually include sensations like numbness, tingling, pins/needles, burning, freezing, shooting or throbbing pain that is worse with activity and at night. It can also produce weakness, loss of fine motor coordination in the hands, and loss of balance.

Peripheral neuropathy is considered to be progressive and incurable in most cases.

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Traditionally there have been no good treatments options for the pain and numbness associated with peripheral neuropathy. Most neuropathy patients are given pain medication and something like Gabapentin or Lyrica if their symptoms are severe enough. These medications are often ineffective and can produce unwanted side effects.

In many patients with peripheral neuropathy, the symptoms (pain, numbness, weakness) are often due to nerve compressions superimposed on top of the underlying metabolic process. The key is that the metabolic process, diabetes for example, results in the nerve eventually becoming swollen and enlarged. This leads to the nerves becoming compressed or “pinched” along their course at locations of anatomic narrowing (tight spaces). Carpal tunnel syndrome is one example of a nerve compression, however, there are many other locations in the body beside the wrist where enlarged nerves can become compressed.

The good news for some people suffering from peripheral neuropathy is that in those patients who have findings of nerve compression on physical examination, there are now surgical procedures that may permanently relieve the pain, numbness, and weakness. This is an exciting, revolutionary development in the treatment of peripheral nerve pain.

Neuropathy surgery typically involves one or more surgical incisions to decompress nerves in the upper or lower extremities. The specific combination of surgical incisions is based on the location of the patient’s symptoms and their physical exam findings. This is tailored to each patient’s needs. Surgery involves general anesthesia but is done on an outpatient basis. Recovery time for most surgical procedures averages between two to four weeks with the patient being weight bearing as tolerated the entire time.

The success rate for neuropathy surgery is approximately 80%. “Success” typically means complete resolution of the pain and numbness associated with peripheral neuropathy. For people who respond to the surgery, these changes are permanent.

The Tollestrup Team Can Help

Dr. Tim Tollestrup and his team can help. Call us at 702-666-0463 or fill out the form on this page to set up a consultation to determine your options.