Your doctor will review your medical history, ask about any accidents or previous surgeries, and discuss your symptoms with you. Your doctor will also conduct a physical and neurological examination. If your neurological examination shows signs of a nerve injury, your doctor may recommend diagnostic tests, which may include:
- Electromyography (EMG). In an EMG, a thin-needle electrode inserted into the muscle records the muscle's electrical activity at rest and in motion. Reduced muscle activity can indicate nerve injury.
- Nerve conduction study. Electrodes placed at two different points in the body measure how well electrical signals pass through the nerves.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of areas affected by nerve damage.
- Ultrasound. Like MRI, these high-frequency sound waves produce detailed images of the area affected by nerve damage.
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If a nerve is injured but not cut, the injury is more likely to heal. Injuries in which the nerve has been completely severed are very difficult to treat, and recovery may not be possible.
Your doctor will determine your treatment based on the extent and cause of your injury and how well the nerve is healing.
- If your nerve is healing properly, you may not need surgery. You may need to rest the affected area until it's healed. Nerves recover slowly, and maximal recovery may take many months or several years.
- You'll need regular checkups to make sure your recovery stays on track.
- If your injury is caused by a medical condition, your doctor will treat the underlying condition.
- Depending on the type and severity of your nerve injury, you may need medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) to relieve your pain. Medications used to treat depression, seizures or insomnia may be used to relieve nerve pain. In some cases, you may need corticosteroid injections for pain relief.
- Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to prevent stiffness and restore function.
Peripheral nerve graft
Peripheral nerve graft
To repair a damaged nerve, a surgeon removes a small part of the sural nerve in the leg and implants this nerve at the site of the repair.
Sometimes the surgeon can borrow another working nerve to make an injured nerve work (nerve transfer).
Peripheral nerve transfer
Peripheral nerve transfer
Your surgeon can bypass a damaged section of nerve by connecting a healthy nerve to restore function.
If your injury does not seem to be healing properly, your surgeon can use EMG testing in the operating room to assess whether scarred nerves are recovering. Doing an EMG test directly on the nerve is more accurate and reliable than doing the test over the skin.
Sometimes a nerve sits inside a tight space (similar to a tunnel) or is squeezed by scarring. In these cases, your surgeon may enlarge the tight space or free the nerve from the scar.
Sometimes a section of a nerve is cut completely or damaged beyond repair. Your surgeon can remove the damaged section and reconnect healthy nerve ends (nerve repair) or implant a piece of nerve from another part of your body (nerve graft). These procedures can help your nerves regrow.
If you have a particularly severe nerve injury, your doctor may suggest surgery to restore function to critical muscles by transferring tendons from one muscle to another.
A number of treatments can help restore function to the affected muscles.
- Braces or splints. These devices keep the affected limb, fingers, hand or foot in the proper position to improve muscle function.
- Electrical stimulator. Stimulators can activate muscle served by an injured nerve while the nerve regrows. However, this treatment may not be effective for everyone. Your doctor will discuss electrical stimulation with you if it's an option.
- Physical therapy. Therapy involves specific movements or exercises to keep affected muscles and joints active. Physical therapy can prevent stiffness and help restore function and feeling.
- Exercise. Exercise can help improve your muscle strength, maintain range of motion and reduce muscle cramps.
Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.
Preparing for your appointment
A number of tests may be used to help diagnose the type and severity of peripheral nerve injury. When you make your appointment, be sure to ask whether you need to prepare for these tests. For instance, you may need to stop taking certain medications for a few days or avoid using lotions the day of the test.
If possible, take along a family member or friend. Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb all the information you're given during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you forgot or missed.
Other suggestions for getting the most from your appointment include:
- Write down all your symptoms, including how you were injured, how long you've had your symptoms and whether they've gotten worse over time.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- Don't hesitate to ask questions. Children and adults with peripheral nerve injuries have several options for restoring lost function. Be sure to ask your doctor about all the possibilities available to you or your child. If you run out of time, ask to speak with a nurse or have your doctor call you later.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Peripheral nerve injuries care at Mayo Clinic
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May 10, 2022
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Nerve injuries. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00016. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of upper extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of lower extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- NINDS pinched nerve information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Pinched-Nerve-Information-Page#disorders-r1. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Azar FM, et al. Peripheral nerve injuries. In: Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 14th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Daroff RB, et al. Trauma of the nervous system: Peripheral nerve trauma. In: Bradley and Daroff's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Elsevier; 2022. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/neurological-diagnostic-tests-and-procedures-fact. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Neligan PC. Peripheral nerve injuries of the upper extremity. In: Plastic Surgery. Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Pain: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Pain-Hope-Through-Research. Accessed Feb. 28, 2022.
- Brachial plexus injuries information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Brachial-Plexus-Injuries-Information-Page. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
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- Peripheral nerve injuries
Peripheral nerve graft
To repair a damaged nerve, a surgeon removes a small part of the sural nerve in the leg and implants this nerve at the site of the repair. Sometimes the surgeon can borrow another working nerve to make an injured nerve work (nerve transfer).
A doctor may order a nerve conduction study, which can reveal if you have nerve damage. The study measures how quickly an electrical impulse travels through a nerve and how much of the impulse is transmitted. Nerves carry messages between your brain and muscles.What is the most common treatment for peripheral neuropathy? ›
The main medicines recommended for neuropathic pain include: amitriptyline – also used for treatment of headaches and depression. duloxetine – also used for treatment of bladder problems and depression. pregabalin and gabapentin – also used to treat epilepsy, headaches or anxiety.What is the best way to diagnose nerve damage? ›
Electromyography (EMG) is used to record the electrical activity in muscle. It can identify abnormalities in the muscles or nerves resulting from peripheral neuropathy, nerve degeneration or damage to the protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds the nerves in your brain or spinal cord.How is nerve damage diagnosed and treated? ›
Nerve conduction studies, including an Electromyogram (EMG) may be performed on individuals suffering with nerve pain symptoms. These studies use electrical impulses to determine the level of damage. A final diagnosis will be made by your physician through the help of one or all of these tests.What is the first line treatment for peripheral neuropathy? ›
First line treatment in neuropathic pain is pregabalin, gabapentin, duloxetine and amitriptyline. Second choice drugs are topical capsaicin and lidocaine, which can also be considered as primary treatment in focal neuropathic pain. Opioids are considered as third choice treatment.What happens if you have peripheral nerve damage? ›
Overview. Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. It can also affect other areas and body functions including digestion, urination and circulation.What is the most accurate test for peripheral neuropathy? ›
To diagnose Neuropathy correctly and develop a list of possible causes, an EMG/NCV (Electromyography/Nerve Conduction Velocity Study) is the most accurate and correct test and is required for a Confirmation Diagnosis.What can a neurologist do for peripheral neuropathy? ›
Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
Our neurologists prescribe medication to treat neuropathy. A procedure called plasma exchange can help some people with peripheral neuropathy achieve remission.
Medical help often begins and ends with a symptom cover-up approach. Medications like Gabapentin, Lyrica & Neurontin (if they work at all) cover-up pain but do not stop or reverse nerve damage.
PN was strongly associated with earlier mortality. Mean survival time for those with PN was 10.8 years, compared with 13.9 years for subjects without PN. PN was also indirectly associated through impaired balance.Can you recover from peripheral neuropathy? ›
Usually a peripheral neuropathy can't be cured, but you can do a lot of things to prevent it from getting worse. If an underlying condition like diabetes is at fault, your healthcare provider will treat that first and then treat the pain and other symptoms of neuropathy.Is it hard to prove nerve damage? ›
What Evidence May Prove the Accident Caused Your Nerve Damage? Proving you suffered nerve damage is difficult. Part of the reason for this is that some nerve damage, such as a whiplash injury, is not visible. Even when you have a diagnosis, it can be challenging to prove the injury was the result of your car accident.How does a neurologist determine if you have nerve damage? ›
a nerve conduction test (NCS), where small metal wires called electrodes are placed on your skin that release tiny electric shocks to stimulate your nerves; the speed and strength of the nerve signal is measured.What is the latest treatment for peripheral neuropathy? ›
ABBOTT PARK, Ill., Jan. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its Proclaim™ XR spinal cord stimulation (SCS) system to treat painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a debilitating complication of diabetes.How long do peripheral nerves take to heal? ›
Peripheral Nerve Injury Classification
This injury does not require surgical intervention and usually will recover within a matter of hours to a few weeks.
The NCV is done by a neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in brain and nerve disorders. A technologist may also do some parts of the test.What is the strongest drug for nerve pain? ›
What's the best painkiller for nerve pain? Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline and anti-epileptic drugs like gabapentin and pregabalin are very effective at treating nerve pain.Do you need surgery for peripheral neuropathy? ›
The pain, tingling, numbness and other discomforts of peripheral nerve disorders can often be treated successfully with physical therapy and other nonsurgical methods. But in some cases, surgery offers the best chance of lasting relief.What ointment is good for nerve pain? ›
Capsaicin is used to help relieve a certain type of pain known as neuralgia (shooting or burning pain in the nerves). Capsaicin is also used to help relieve minor pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or muscle sprains and strains.
Success rates of this type of foot neuropathy treatment, using nerve surgery on the foot and leg, have been reported at 90% for relief of pain and 70% for return of normal sensation.Can you reverse peripheral nerve damage? ›
If you have symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, you should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy symptoms start before the condition causes permanent changes or damage, so it may be possible to limit the effects or even reverse them.Does an MRI show nerve damage? ›
An MRI may be able help identify structural lesions that may be pressing against the nerve so the problem can be corrected before permanent nerve damage occurs. Nerve damage can usually be diagnosed based on a neurological examination and can be correlated by MRI scan findings.What is the most common symptom of nerve damage? ›
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
- Feeling like you're wearing a tight glove or sock.
- Muscle weakness, especially in your arms or legs.
- Regularly dropping objects that you're holding.
- Sharp pains in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
- A buzzing sensation that feels like a mild electrical shock.
Nerve conduction studies
Their reliability and objectivity make them the gold standard for diagnosing DPN. Peroneal conduction velocity and sural nerve action potential amplitude have high sensitivities for identifying existing DPN (80% and 83% respectively) with specificities of 89% and 72%.
Quantitative sensory testing (QST) is a technique for evaluating sensory neuropathy. It detects small fiber and large fiber neuropathy through standardized and quantified sensory differences such as stimulation, vibration, and temperature.What is the gold standard test for neuropathy? ›
The gold standard for detecting DSPN is the nerve conduction velocity test. It can diagnose sensory and motor losses due to neuropathy even when dysfunction is subclinical, and it can predict ulceration and mortality in diabetic patients (8,17,18).What is the No 1 medical condition that causes neuropathy? ›
Diabetes is the leading cause of polyneuropathy in the U.S. About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve problems that can cause numb, tingling, or burning feet, one-sided bands or pain, and numbness and weakness on the trunk or pelvis.What is the latest treatment for nerve pain? ›
Gabapentin and Pregabalin have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of neuropathic pain.What are the warning signs of peripheral neuropathy? ›
- numbness and tingling in the feet or hands.
- burning, stabbing or shooting pain in affected areas.
- loss of balance and co-ordination.
- muscle weakness, especially in the feet.
If you have epilepsy, it's likely that once your condition is under control you'll still need to take gabapentin for many years. If you have nerve pain, once your pain has gone you'll continue to take gabapentin for several months or longer to stop it coming back.How long should I take gabapentin for nerve damage? ›
Generally, it is recommended to take gabapentin for at least four to six weeks or at the highest tolerated dose for at least two weeks. However, nerve pain can be a long-term issue, lasting for three or more months. If gabapentin provides relief, your healthcare provider may have you continue taking it daily.How long does it take for gabapentin to work for nerve damage? ›
Gabapentin works by changing the way that nerves send messages to your brain. If the messages are reduced, then the pain will be reduced. How long will it take to work? It may take 2 - 4 weeks before you feel pain relief.Can I live a normal life with peripheral neuropathy? ›
Peripheral neuropathy is rarely fatal but may cause serious complications if left untreated. These complications may affect a person's life expectancy. A healthcare professional can advise on their condition, their outlook, and how they can manage it.How long before peripheral neuropathy is permanent? ›
For people whose symptoms continue after treatment is complete, these often improve or resolve within 6-12 months. Some people do experience these symptoms for a longer period of time and for some, they become permanent.What is the end stage of neuropathy? ›
Stage Four: Complete Numbness/ Loss of Sensation
If a patient does not seek treatment for their neuropathy, they will begin to lose all feeling, and their risk of recurrent wounds and subsequent amputation will increase.
Patients may lose mobility below the area affected by the damage. The neurosurgeon can develop a treatment plan depending on the patient's condition and handle the intervention process. The treatment may include surgery, medications, physical therapy, and mental health therapy.Do compression socks help neuropathy? ›
Compression socks improve nerve sensitivity if you suffer from nerve damage or neuropathy. Because compression socks help hinder excess swelling and inflammation, utilizing them can decrease swelling and, therefore, lessen the risk of infection.What is the best treatment for neuropathy in legs and feet? ›
Medications to control pain associated with neuropathy include duloxetine (Cymbalta), gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), or some antiepileptic medications. Surgical treatment may be recommended for people with nerve damage from injury or nerve compression.Does tingling mean nerves are healing? ›
Most of the time, the pins and needles feeling is a good sign. It's a short-term phase that means nerves are coming back to life.
Nerve damage can be extremely debilitating and could result in permanent disabilities. The impact of nerve damage could range from numbness to chronic pain or even paralysis.Is nerve damage irreparable? ›
A damaged nerve has the capacity to grow up to a third of an inch in length during recovery, meaning severed nerves can potentially heal and come back together (although it's unlikely they do so without human intervention and stitching).What is the best investigation for nerve injury? ›
In an EMG , a thin-needle electrode inserted into the muscle records the muscle's electrical activity at rest and in motion. Reduced muscle activity can indicate nerve injury.
- Cranial nerves. Everyone has twelve cranial (brain) nerves. ...
- Motor system and coordination. ...
- Sensation. ...
- Cognitive abilities, memory and mind. ...
- Vegetative nervous system.
Both US and MRI are excellent modalities for imaging of the peripheral nerves. They are able to delineate the site of disease, assess its severity, identify the cause of neuropathy and also monitor response to therapy.What is the drug of choice for peripheral neuropathy? ›
- amitriptyline – also used for treatment of headaches and depression.
- duloxetine – also used for treatment of bladder problems and depression.
- pregabalin and gabapentin – also used to treat epilepsy, headaches or anxiety.
Maresin 1 (MaR1) is an anti-inflammatory and proresolving mediator that has the potential to regenerate tissue. We determined whether MaR1 is able to promote nerve regeneration as well as alleviating neuropathic pain, and to be considered as a putative therapeutic agent for treating PNI.Can peripheral nerves be repaired? ›
The peripheral nervous system has regenerative potential. However, for optimal healing to occur, an appropriate environment must be provided physiologically or surgically.What happens when peripheral nerves are damaged? ›
Overview. Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet. It can also affect other areas and body functions including digestion, urination and circulation.Can peripheral neuropathy be treated successfully? ›
Usually a peripheral neuropathy can't be cured, but you can do a lot of things to prevent it from getting worse. If an underlying condition like diabetes is at fault, your healthcare provider will treat that first and then treat the pain and other symptoms of neuropathy.
26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Abbott (NYSE: ABT) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its Proclaim™ XR spinal cord stimulation (SCS) system to treat painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a debilitating complication of diabetes.How do you treat peripheral nerve damage naturally? ›
- Vitamins. Some cases of peripheral neuropathy are related to vitamin deficiencies. ...
- Cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy. ...
- Quit smoking. ...
- Warm bath. ...
- Exercise. ...
- Essential oils. ...
- Meditation. ...
To find out, conclusively, if your nerves are damaged, you need to see a neurologist. He or she will perform tests to determine the health of your muscles and nerves. If there is a problem, the doctor will explain the reason for the damage and its extent. They will follow up by devising a treatment plan.How long does it take for peripheral nerves to heal? ›
If your nerve is bruised or traumatized but is not cut, it should recover over 6-12 weeks. A nerve that is cut will grow at 1mm per day, after about a 4 week period of 'rest' following your injury.How long does peripheral nerve damage take to heal? ›
In injuries where 20-30% of the axons are damaged, collateral branching is the primary mechanism of recovery. This begins in the first 4 days following injury and will continue for about 3-6 months, until recovery occurs.Has anyone ever reversed peripheral neuropathy? ›
Yes, Neuropathy CAN Be Reversed.