MEER | Peripheral Nerve Injury
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Peripheral Nerve Injury

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What is a Peripheral Nerve Injury?

A peripheral nerve injury occurs when any nerves in the body that are not in the brain or spinal cord are damaged. If a peripheral nerve is damaged then muscles supplied by that nerve do not receive information from the brain and, therefore, they become weakened or paralyzed. The nerve damage also means that the brain does not receive information from the body. This can present as altered sensation such as numbness or pins and needles. Unlike the spinal cord, peripheral nerves have the ability to heal.

Peripheral nerve injuries can be caused by:

  • An extreme stretch of a nerve (eg. during a joint dislocation)
  • Reduced blood supply to a nerve (eg. when someone falls asleep in a position that puts pressure on a nerve – such as with their arm over the back of a chair)
  • An electrical burn
  • A cut of a nerve (eg. from a knife or a traumatic fracture)

Complete injuries

All the nerve fibres in the injured section of nerve are damaged, causing total loss of muscle power and sensation below the level of the injury.

In incomplete lesions some of the nerve fibres in the injured nerve are damaged and others are unaffected. Some muscle power and sensation will be present below the level of the injury. An incomplete nerve injury means that some of the nerve remains intact and, therefore, the chances of a full recovery being made are improved.

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Effects of a Peripheral Nerve Injury

The effects of peripheral nerve injuries vary, depending on the cause and severity of the injury.

Common effects of a nerve injury are:

  • Pain (ranging from a tingling pain to intense, burning pain)
  • Numbness or altered sensations
  • Muscle weakness in the affected body part
  • Loss of function (eg. a hand or leg being difficult to use whilst performing tasks)
  • Loss of active movement (eg. wrist drop and foot drop)

Physiotherapy Treatment for a Peripheral Nerve Injury:

The management of a peripheral nerve injury varies depending on the cause, type and degree of the nerve injury. If a nerve is not healing properly surgery may be required to repair the damaged section. Physiotherapy is very important to promote the recovery of peripheral nerve injuries regardless of whether surgery is required.  Meer PT  provide specialized treatment  programs,  functional electrical stimulation and bracing / splinting to;

  1. Maintain range muscle length / joint range of movement
  2. Maintain nerve integrity
  3. Increase muscle strength
  4. Increase sensation
  5. Manage neuropathic pain
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