Nerve Damage After Surgery
Scarring around nerves is one of the most common issues that arise after surgery. It means that scar tissue emerges that constricts the nerve and makes the nerve unhealthy by restricting the transport of essential chemicals. Many neurons (nerve cells) compose nerves and are clustered into a bundle that creates a giant nerve. A fatty sheath has surrounded the nerve that acts as an insulator. It covers the myelin sheath and makes it more difficult for the nerves to function once it gets damaged. Nerve damage is split into three types: damage to the surface of the myelin sheath, known as neurapraxia, damage to neurons is known as axontomeis, and when the nerve is cut in half or torn, it is neurontomesis.
Let’s explore the signs and symptoms of nerve damage after surgery.
Signs and Symptoms of Nerve Damage
Tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, or burning are the most common signs and symptoms of nerve damage after surgery.
Numbness is the most annoying and troubling problem caused after surgery. It is basically losing sensation in a particular area of the body that affects a person’s lifestyle. Usually, it feels like pins and needles. The severe condition of tingling and numbness is complicated to deal with.
Causes of Numbness
There are several causes for numbness and tingling after surgery. Those who have experienced anesthesia during surgery are more likely to face these symptoms. It is utilized by injecting medicine around the cluster of nerves to block pain. During surgery, one does not feel pain sensations due to these medicines, so these medicines are specifically given to cause numbness. This kind of numbness can exist for several hours after surgery. In some cases, it exists for days.
Numbness is not always problematic; it can be a reward after surgery, so the patient cannot feel pain. There are several causes of numbness, including:
The positioning has a significant role in causing numbness; for instance, if a patient is lying still on the surgical table for hours, he might experience numbness. Also, if the patient is in surgery for a long time, they are more likely to undergo numbness. This is the same as when you wake up and an arm or leg has fallen asleep. Thus, positioning is one of the reasons that someone may feel numbness.
- Nerve Injury
Numbness can also be caused by an injury that engraves the nerve. For instance, if a cut is placed on a specific site of the body through nerves, it affects the nerves badly. It leads to numbness in the area below the cut nerve. Even during surgery, a nerve can be cut that causes numbness to that specific portion of the body. Therefore, it is necessary for surgeons to know how a nerve cut can cause tingling, pain, and numbness to the patient, and it needs to be avoided. Maxillofacial surgeons understand the possibility of nerve damage during surgery because slight nerve damage on the face tends to cause problems for the patient to smile and converse.
- Incision Numbness
The incision is defined as a surgical cut on the area of surgery. After the surgery, the surrounding specific area of the incision becomes numb, and it may remain for a long period of time after surgery. It happens when the nerves are damaged through a surgical site.
Diagnosis of Nerve Damage
The healthcare professional needs to diagnose the condition of nerve damage after surgery. They detect the cause and condition by performing several tests.
- Electromyogram (EMG)/ Nerve Conduction study
Electromyography (EMG) is a test used to measure the electrical activity or muscle response to check nerve stimulation. This electrical test is highly specific with low sensitivity and utilized to check neuromuscular abnormalities. A severe kind of nerve damage can be picked up by this test. It is performed by inserting one or more needles into the muscle through the skin.
- MR Neurography
MR Neurography is defined as Magnetic Resonance Neurography used to check the damaged nerve. This test utilizes the power of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to determine the nerves accurately with high resolution in the body. Specialists scan the exact site of the damaged nerve through Magnetic Resonance Neurography. A wide range of nerve problems can be detected by this test.
- Ultrasound of Peripheral Nerve and Muscle
Ultrasound imaging of a nerve is a test used to check the swelling or compression of the nerves. It is a painless, less invasive, and dynamic analysis with spatial resolution. With the help of ultrasound imaging, the nerves that are healthy arise as ongoing clusters of neuronal fascicles isolated from surrounding connective tissue.
How to help nerve pain after surgery?
Physical therapy is one good way to help nerve pain after surgery. Medications including Neurontin, Lyrica, Elavil, Topomax, and Ultram can help in order to treat nerve damage after surgery and relieve pain.
Orthobiologics (e.g. platelet-rich plasma — PRP) may help in this regard. This is a cell therapy approach that is used to relieve nerve pain. Doctors use Orthobiologics as a neuropathy pain treatment that works to enhance the function of nerves by providing healing.
Need emergency care
If a person feels numbness and tingling due to nerve damage after surgery, he should consult the doctor as soon as possible.
There is a severe condition in which a patient feels difficulty in speaking and walking. Patients may lose control of urine and bowels due to numbness. Muscle weakness is another significant problem that occurs due to numbness. If a person has undergone spine or back surgery, he is more inclined to experience numbness below the surgical incision site. All these issues arise because of numbness that needs emergency care.
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