Nerve damage is one of the risks of surgery that can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life. According to the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a group of researchers undertook a study to determine just how common surgical nerve damage is, and whether they could identify any risk factors.
The types of surgery in the study involved the shoulder, arm, wrist, hand or fingers.
The study outcomes
Of 297 people who underwent surgery, 14 reported new nerve injuries afterward. The researchers did not find that those patients had any underlying risk factors, and the conclusion was that, in 11 cases, surgical trauma caused the damage. Four years later, five of those patients still suffered pain and reduced functionality from the damage.
Nerve damage symptoms
According to WebMD, nerve damage could result in burning, tingling and prickling sensations. The muscles could become weak or waste away. A person could experience problems with positional awareness and numbness. Depending on the types of nerves and the type of damage, a person could experience multiple symptoms.
Surgical trauma may result in pinched, compressed, cut or crushed nerves, or it could be the result of anesthesia. Often, nerve fibers can regrow, but the process is slow, and scar tissue can keep it from happening.
Nerve damage treatment
Even when nerve damage is permanent, it is often still possible to find treatments that will reduce pain and improve function. A doctor may prescribe medications such as antiseizure drugs and pain relievers, pain creams, physical therapy or surgery.
Doctors may also suggest alternative therapies for pain relief, such as electrical nerve stimulation, supplements, meditation or acupuncture.
When the cause of the nerve damage is a surgical or anesthesia error, the patient may be able to hold the responsible parties liable for the cost of treatment, pain and suffering and lost quality of life.