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Your nervous system carries messages between your brain and body, sending signals about movement, temperature, or pressure. Your central nervous system is composed of your brain and spinal cord. Disruptions in this communication system can be painful and lead to severe and long-term health issues if left untreated.
This article will discuss the symptoms associated with nerve damage injuries, as well as diagnosis and the various treatment options most often used by the Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow pain specialists.
Nerve pain in the shoulder, arm, and hand is often caused by injury to the brachial plexus. These injuries are often associated with trauma, including bone fractures, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries. In addition, any type of cutting (laceration), crushing, or stretching of the nerve can cause fibers within a nerve to suffer damage.
Additionally, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pinched nerves can also cause nerve pain.
Medical professionals characterize nerve injuries as weakness, numbness, pain, or tingling in the affected area. The intensity of the symptoms will depend heavily on the severity of the damage. The intensity of the symptoms will depend heavily on the severity of your nerve damage.
For example, a numb feeling might range from pins and needles to a complete loss of sensation. The degree will depend on the individual case and the seriousness of the damage to the nerve.
Since all your nerves do not transmit the same signals, numbness, weakness, and pain may not all occur simultaneously. Numbness is a sign of an injury to a nerve that transmits sensation. Since some nerves only carry motor signals, muscle weakness can be a symptom of damage to one of these specific nerves.
When a nerve injury affects the hand and arm, it will likely impact your coordination and grip. As a result, you might find that you lose strength in your hand and arm.
Nerve pain can be acute or chronic. Severing a nerve within the brachial plexus is an example of an acute injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a chronic nerve condition caused by excess pressure on the median nerve as it crosses the wrist.
Carpal tunnel symptoms include numbness and pain in the hand (especially the thumb) and pain in the wrist. These symptoms might come and go. However, in a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome, symptoms might be present constantly.
To make an accurate diagnosis of the condition of your nerves, a nerve specialist will first need to complete a physical assessment. This evaluation does not require scans such as X-rays or MRIs.
One of our occupational therapists will conduct an initial evaluation in which they examine muscle strength and sensation. You will be asked to describe your symptoms and your pain level.
If the nerve damage occurs in conjunction with an additional injury, such as a broken bone or torn tendon, other types of testing might be involved to treat these issues.
The practitioners at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, have extensive experience treating nerve injuries in the upper extremities of the body. They are trained to recognize specific symptoms and provide transparent and honest diagnoses.
There are two primary goals in treating nerve injuries: restoring the nerve’s function and reducing nerve pain in the area. These goals can be achieved with a combination of medication, physical therapy, and surgical repair (as a last resort).
In some cases, minor nerve pain is able to heal without medical intervention. Supportive care and pain management medications might be prescribed in these instances.
Nerve transfers and nerve grafts are some of the most common procedures to repair nerve injuries. Both surgeries involve transplanting a functional nerve into the position of the nerve that no longer works.
At Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow, we realize that surgery is an invasive and costly procedure with certain risks involved. Therefore, we can often treat nerve injuries with non-surgical methods such as massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy for nerve damage.
We present patients with all the options available for treating pain and don’t recommend surgery unless it is medically necessary to heal chronic pain.
You use your hands and arms every day for a wide variety of tasks. So don’t let pain stop you from living your life to the fullest.
Make an appointment at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow for an evaluation to take back your life from nerve pain. Our offices are located in Atlanta and Marietta, Georgia.
Randall Alexander, MD