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Do I Need Surgery For My Nerve Pain?

By June 30, 2021July 26th, 2021Educational Articles, Nerve Pain
Dr. Tollestrup performs peripheral nerve surgery.

If you are experiencing nerve pain in a specific area of your body, surgery is something you may want to consider. You do have other options like physical therapy, certain medications, acupuncture, or wearing a splint. If you have tried these options for more than three months and are still experiencing pain, you will likely need surgery to feel better.

You also might need surgery for nerve pain sooner than later in certain cases, such as a pinched nerve. When nerve damage persists, it can become permanent, and the pain and other symptoms may increase.

Types of Nerve Damage

There are over 100 different types of nerve damage, and when you have nerve pain, it is caused by sensory nerve damage. You could also damage your motor nerves which would cause muscle weakness, uncontrollable twitching, difficulty walking or climbing stairs, and muscle cramps. If your autonomic nerves are damaged, your cardiovascular system could be impaired. The different types of nerve damage most commonly occur in your limbs, including hands, fingers, feet, and toes. This is known as peripheral nerve damage, and it affects over 20 million Americans.

Peripheral nerve damage can result from diabetes, autoimmune disease, infections, or toxins. Other times, this damage results from bodily injury due to trauma or overuse, especially when repetitive motions are involved. It is also possible to have nerve damage from surgery. This happens when scar tissue forms after surgery, and it places pressure on a nerve which restricts it. This is when different types of nerve surgery may be needed to restore you.

Peripheral nerve damage also happens when nerves get trapped and compressed by surrounding tendons and ligaments. This can happen in the wrists, hands, shoulders, ankles, and feet, where an injury might irritate the sheath of a tendon. When a tendon sheath stays irritated for too long, it heals incorrectly, causing deformity to that tendon, which pinches and damages surrounding nerve tissue.

A common type of peripheral nerve damage is Diabetic neuropathy. This type of nerve damage happens most often in the feet. Diabetes causes hyperglycemia which means that you have too much sugar in your blood. This excess sugar can cause nerves to swell, especially in the feet, and if it is allowed to progress, it could make amputation necessary.

How to Heal Nerve Damage

Once your doctor has determined the type and cause of your nerve damage, he may suggest medication. Some medications could include antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, or even an immunosuppressant in the case of an autoimmune disease. Certain drugs cause nerve damage so that your doctor could suggest changing a medication you are on. If you suffer from diabetes, your doctor will work to regulate your blood sugar.

Your doctor could put you on an exercise program or suggest you make changes in your diet. Certain food supplements like vitamin B, Curcumin from turmeric, alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, and N-acetyl cysteine may help your nerve damage.

If you have peripheral nerve damage, for example, in your finger or toe, placing a splint on that finger or toe might immobilize it enough to avoid friction against the nerve while it heals. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works best when nerve damage is caused by a decrease in blood flow. Nerves may also heal with the aid of physical therapy, exercise, or possibly electrical stimulation.

It is important to consult with your doctor as soon as your symptoms begin. Nerve damage that does not heal on its own will only get worse without treatment. Then, if treatments do not work, you will want to consider different types of nerve surgery.

Types of Nerve Surgery

Whether it is diabetes, physical injury, an autoimmune response, or a deficiency in blood flow, different types of nerve surgery can alleviate the problem when attempts to heal the damage have not worked. Sometimes nerves need to be repaired. Other times they are replaced from another area of the body known as a nerve graft or from a human donor, known as a nerve transfer. This technique is used when two ends of an injured neuron can not be brought together without excessive tension.

There is also nerve decompression surgery. This is when a nerve is being restricted because either the tunnel in the body it travels through has become too narrow or because the nerve has become swollen. This would happen because too much sugar in the blood has bound to collagen in the connective tissue of both the nerve and the tunnel it travels through, causing this tissue to thicken. This often happens in the feet, and it places damaging pressure on the nerve, which results in the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Another possibility is that this pressure is being placed by a tumor. Either way, this often calls for surgery for neuropathy in the feet.

Surgery of neuropathy in the feet is the method performed by doctors to alleviate the pressure on the nerves traveling through the feet. This is why it is called decompression surgery, and this procedure has successfully saved many people with diabetes from losing their feet.

Nerve Damage Surgery Recovery Time

In general, patients will fully recover from any numbness in a day or two following nerve damage surgery. In contrast, nerves could take six months to a year to completely repair themselves. While nerve decompression surgery foot recovery time is generally about the same, you should reach your expected level of mobility in about 4 to 6 weeks.

Nerve Repair Surgery Cost

The cost for nerve repair surgery is very low when compared to other surgical costs. In addition, when you consider the improvement of quality of life for the patient and all of the long-term treatments that can be avoided thanks to nerve repair, the costs are very minimal.

If you are tired of living with nerve damage symptoms, maybe it is time you considered nerve repair surgery. Contact your doctor today and find out what can be done to alleviate your discomfort and avoid further complications down the road.