Nerve Injuries

Also known as: nerve laceration, nerve compression, neurapraxia

What are nerve injuries?

Nerves are the body’s electrical system, and they carry information to and from the brain. Some nerves carry messages from the brain to muscles to make the body move, while other nerves carry messages about pain, pressure, or temperature from the body to the brain.

When an injury or damage occurs to one or many nerves, these are known as nerve injuries.

What causes nerve injuries?

Nerves can be directly injured by a cut, also known as a laceration. Nerves can also be stretched or compressed. Pressure can develop around nerves in conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The signals carried by the nerves cannot cross the gaps caused by lacerations. Nerve signals are also affected by injured, stretched or compressed nerves.

What are the types of nerve injuries?

Nerves can be cut from sharp objects, such as knives, scissors, or broken glass. Nerves can also be injured by too much pressure or stretching of the nerves. Stretch of the nerves .

  1. Compression—too much pressure on the nerve (from surrounding scar tissue or swollen muscles)
  2. Crush/percussion injury (from bone fractures or gunshot wounds)
  3. Laceration (a cut or tear in the nerve, usually from penetrating trauma such as knives, scissors, or broken glass)
  4. Stretch injury (can occur from the birthing process, sports injuries, and car accidents)
  5. Electrical injury
  6. Frostbite injury
  7. Toxins (sugar, alcohol, heavy metals, infections)

What are the symptoms of nerve injuries?

Numbness, pain and weakness are symptoms of nerve injury. Numbness includes loss of sensation, and weakness includes the inability to move or bend the affected area of the body.

Other problems sometimes seen with nerve injuries include:

  • muscle atrophy
  • differences in blood flow to skin
  • changes in the amount of sweat the skin creates

What are nerve injury care options?

Some nerve injuries resolve without any special treatment, minor nerve injuries usually can heal themselves through rest of the affected area.

However, some nerve injuries require surgery. Nerves that have been cut (lacerated) usually require surgical repair, while nerves that are compressed may require release of surrounding structures.

In many cases, rehabilitation is needed in order to facilitate full recovery.

Reviewed by: Aaron Berger, MD

This page was last updated on: January 14, 2020 09:43 AM