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 .
- Compression—too much pressure on the nerve (from surrounding scar tissue or swollen muscles)
- Crush/percussion injury (from bone fractures or gunshot wounds)
- Laceration (a cut or tear in the nerve, usually from penetrating trauma such as knives, scissors, or broken glass)
- Stretch injury (can occur from the birthing process, sports injuries, and car accidents)
- Electrical injury
- Frostbite injury
- 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: December 18, 2020 05:07 PM
Learn more about
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The median nerve is a mixed (motor and sensory) nerve of the upper extremity. If it becomes compressed as it travels through the wrist, the result can be carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes a number of symptoms in hand.
Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injuries
The brachial plexus is a network of peripheral nerves that originate in the neck region and branch off to various muscles of the arm to control movement and sensation in the shoulders, arm, forearm and hand. Injuries to the brachial plexus are most commonly seen in newborns during the process of child-birth. Other causes may include motor vehicle accidents or tumors that may affect the nerves.
Radial Nerve Palsy
The radial nerve is responsible for sensation and movement along the posterior aspect of the arm and hand. Injury to this nerve is referred to as radial nerve palsy, and the symptoms typically include loss of sensation along the posterior aspect of arm, forearm and hand.
Peroneal Nerve Injury/Palsy
The peroneal nerve is an important nerve in the lower leg. It provides sensory input from the lateral aspect of the lower leg and the dorsum (top) of the foot. It also provides motor input to the muscles responsible for dorsiflexion (lifting the foot off of the ground) and eversion of the foot. When this nerve becomes injured, it can lead to sensation and movement problems, most commonly, a condition known as foot drop.
Nerve Laceration Repair
A nerve laceration refers to a nerve that is cut, usually from an accident or injury. Nerve laceration repair is a surgical procedure that is used to repair the injured nerve.