Nerves are special structures in the body that carry electrical signals. Nerves carry signals from brain and spine to muscles to make them work or to glands to make them secrete substances. Similarly nerves carry sensations from different parts of the body back to the brain and spine so that we can be aware of our environment.
Nerves can get cut, crushed or entrapped in many situations. Common everyday injuries like kitchen accidents as well as industrial injuries may injure the nerves. Rarely is it due to stabbing or gunshot injuries. .Sometimes a small puncture wound may unfortunately cut a nerve; so although the skin cut heals easily, the patient is left with a much more serious problem. Then there are diseases like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome where the nerves get compressed for long time. Such problems can result in any of the following symptoms:
Symptoms of nerve injury/compression: If you have these symptoms following an injury, suspect a nerve injury. If you experience these without an injury, nerve compression may be suspected.
- Loss of sensation or numbness: you feel like the part is dead, gone to sleep or is unable to feel anything
- Tingling and sharp pains: like electric currents or “shock” or like ants crawling, pins and needles etc.
- Loss of power: the muscles supplied by the nerve go weak or refuse to work
- Loss of sweating in the area
- Pain: Deep dull pain, worse at night. The person wakes up from sleep, shakes the hand or tries various positions to get comfort.
Whom to consult for diagnosis? The diagnosis is often established by the emergency physician or orthopaedic doctor or by specialist neurologist. Sometimes the plastic surgeon is the first one to suspect this problem. Nerve conduction studies may be done to further investigate the problem but are not essential in all cases. Sometimes MRI scans are needed.
Who treats nerve injuries? Depending on the local medical facility, such injuries are treated by plastic surgeons or neurosurgeons or orthopaedics. Plastic surgeons having microsurgery training or hand sub-specialization are uniquely qualified to do this.
Dr. Mohan Rangaswamy has been successfully treating nerve injuries and nerve entrapments / compressions for over 25 years. Conditions treated are: carpal tunnel syndrome, digital nerve injuries, and major nerve trauma in upper and lower limbs – fresh and old, nerve gaps requiring nerve grafting or nerve switch and also late sequel such as paralysis due to neglected nerve injuries. Dr. Mohan also treats nerves injured as part of a fracture particularly in the arm and leg bones; here some nerves are closely associated with the bone.