Peripheral Nerve Injury

General Information

Cuts and tearing on an arm or leg caused by knives, glass and bullets are a frequent cause of nerve injury.

Many involve complete or partial division of the nerve.

Treatment

When sharply cut, the nerve may be repaired by stitching the ends together.

In injuries associated with extensive crushing and tearing of nerve fibers, repair must be delayed three to four weeks to let the damage take its course before repairing nerve fibers that will survive the injury.

Stretch and Traction

General Information Nerves can stretch to a certain degree. However, when their limit is exceeded the nerve can be torn apart, resulting in a nerve injury ranging from mild to severe.

Often associated with bone fractures, stretch or traction is a common cause of brachial plexus, radial and peroneal nerve injuries.

Treatment These injuries should be treated conservatively at first. The spontaneous recovery rate is 65 percent to 85 percent. Of those nerves that recover, 90 percent do so within four months of injury.

Surgical exploration is performed on patients who do not recover spontaneously in four to six months.

Thermal Injury

General Information While not a common cause of peripheral nerve injury, injury by flame, fluid, steam or hot elements can result in neural damage ranging from temporary loss of nerve function to full loss of motor and sensory nerve function when tissue is destroyed by fire.

Treatment Long lengths of the nerve are often involved, requiring nerve grafts. Prognosis for recovery is poor in these cases.