Nerves are the ones that sense what is happening and passes that information to our brain where it will get processed. They are extremely fragile and can be injured by pressure. A nerve injury will hinder the transmission of information and this can result in devastating effects such as the inability of our body to function properly and even a loss in our sense of touch in that region.
Nerves are essentially the wires that we see in our home. Our body sends electrical pulses as signals to work together and these signals will be passed on as the sense of pain, pressure and temperature.
Degree of injury
Nerve injuries are classified into six different degrees from the first to the sixth.
- First-degree nerve injuries are minor and will recover on their own after some time. There will not be any permanent muscle or sensory problems.
- Second-degree nerve injuries are also recoverable but as they are slightly more serious, the recovery time is longer.
- Third-degree injuries will only yield a partial recovery of nerve function.
- From the fourth-degree onwards, recovery of nerve functions is impossible. This is due to the formation of dense scar tissues, which blocks any chances of recovery. There will also be separation of nerves and surgery will be required.
Causes of injuries
Pressure is one of the most common causes of nerve injury. When a large enough pressure is placed on the nerve, the nerve may break. Once it breaks, the connection between those parts of the body to the brain is lost and the ability to function is cut off. If the part of the nerve cut off does not involve the severing of the insulation layer, the nerve has the ability to heal on its own after some time. However, if both the nerve and the insulation are damaged, the nerve dies and results in the formation of neuroma.
As mentioned above, surgery only works when the insulating layer is still intact. The surgeon will sew both ends of the injured nerve together so that new nerve fibers can grow again and the function can be fully restored. It will take between three to four weeks for the nerves to start growing post surgery. Nerves grow at an extremely slow rate of 2cm per month. A nerve injury in the fingertips will require a year before the patient is able to regain his feeling.