Nerves carry messages between the brain and rest of the body to help the body move or respond to certain situations including pain, pressure and temperature. However, due to various reasons, nerves can become damaged.
What causes nerve damage in the hand, wrist or elbow?
Nerves can be damaged by too much pressure, by stretching or by an injury such as a cut or painful condition. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome arises from too much pressure on the median nerve in the hand and can slowly damage the median nerve in the hand. However, in the case of a traumatic event, such as a wrist injury from a fall, nerve damage can occur right away.
Symptoms of nerve damage in the hand, wrist or elbow
- Pain, both permanent or intermittent
A physician will be able to diagnosis your nerve injuries by evaluating your hand and listening to your symptoms. X-rays or other imaging tests are usually not needed.
Can you repair nerve damage in fingers, hand or wrist?
Some nerve injuries can get better without help, but some injuries need to be repaired.
- Mild nerve injuries: Typically, the nerve will repair itself within weeks.
- Broken nerve fibers or more severe nerve injuries: The nerves can grow back to their muscle or skin area, but this can take several months. During that time the messages between the brain and body will stop. Surgery may be needed depending on the type of injury.
- Cut nerve: When both the nerve outer wrap and inner fibers of the nerve are cut, surgery is needed to allow the nerve to heal correctly. In surgery, the nerve ends may be sewn back together to allow the inner nerve fibers to grow back to their muscle or skin areas.
Is nerve damage in hand permanent?
In most cases nerve damage can be repaired with the right treatment and over a long period of time. However, even with treatment, sometimes nerve damage can be permanent.
How long do damaged nerves take to heal?
The nerve fibers grow slowly and, at a maximum, grow about one inch every month after a nerve is sewn back together. It can take many months for the nerve to finish growing after an injury or surgery depending on the length the nerve needs to grow. It can also take this long for muscles to work well again. There might be numbness, pain or a “pins and needles” feeling during the healing period.
Physical therapy is sometimes needed after a nerve injury.
Results during recovery after nerve injury can depend on your age and health, the type of nerve injury, and the injured body part.
Learn more about hand, wrist and elbow treatment at OrthoIndy.
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Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.