Dealing with Nerve Injuries: Causes, Types, and Solutions

From childbirth to sports and more, nerve injuries have many causes. Here are a few causes, types, and solutions if you're suffering from a nerve injury.

Your peripheral nervous system branches off the spinal cord and extends throughout your body. Afferent nerves deliver sensory input from your environment back to your brain. The brain, in turn, processes the information and translates it into action via your efferent division.

Efferent nerves, also known as the motor division, control downstream targets. Their pathways terminate at smooth or skeletal muscle. Their culminated effect generates action on the muscle that they innervate.

This back and forth is responsible for sensation and survival. How do these nerves get injured, and what happens when they get damaged?

Nerve injuries arise from different etiologies. Neuropathy is the disease and dysfunction of the peripheral nerves. Get to know the causes, types, and solutions of nerve pain!

Symptoms of Nerve Injuries

Pain is an evolutionary tool meant as a warning. A demonstration of this is when you feel a painful stimulus, like touching a hot iron. Your sensory nerves transmit it as signals that your brain interprets as pain.

When your brain senses that you are in danger, it tells your motor neurons to get your hand away. This is helpful as an evolutionary tool.

Nerve damage feels the way it does because of faulty signaling. If there is signal disruption, the person with nerve injury may not feel the pain. This results in numbness.

If the signals go through but the transmission is faulty, you may feel neuropathic pain. Misfiring nerves stimulate pain receptors, generating the sensation of pain with or without input.

The symptomatic effects of nerve damage depend on the type or types of nerves affected. It may also depend on their respective location. You may feel a stabbing, prickling, tingling, or burning sensation.

The timing of the pain also varies. Some people feel it intermittently or at certain times, while others describe a constant pain throughout the day. Neuropathic pain can be debilitating if left untreated.

Here are some of the most common causes of nerve injury.

1. Trauma or Compression

Direct trauma to the nerve or compression by another force is a common cause of nerve pain and damage. Almost everyone has experienced sleeping on the wrong side of the bed and waking up with a stiff neck. This results from nerve compression that often resolves within a couple of hours.

Sports injuries, accidents, and trauma usually cause more severe nerve injuries. These may result in cutting the nerve, pinching, or crushing them.

Compression may also result from repeated insults to the nerve. An example of this is carpal tunnel syndrome which develops over time.

2. Dietary Deficiencies

Are you getting your daily dose of vitamin B? Vitamin B6 and B12 are antioxidants that maintain myelin sheaths and balance your nerve metabolism.
If you feel numbness or tingling, you might need to up your intake. Ample sources of these vitamins are beef, pork, poultry, tuna, and salmon.

3. Nerve Diseases

You may remember the ice bucket challenge that raised $115 million for the ALS association. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a form of progressive motor neuron degeneration. It is the most common type of motor neuron disease and results in the loss of voluntary muscle control.

4. Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases are diseases wherein the body’s immune system mistakes your body as a target. Diseases like Guillain-Barre syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis have devastating effects on the nerves.

5. Other Underlying Diseases

Diabetic neuropathy occurs in 70% of diabetes patients. Other diseases such as Lyme disease, HIV, herpes, and hepatitis contribute to nerve degeneration.

6. Cancer and Cancer Treatment

Malignancy results in peripheral neuropathy when cancer compresses nerves. Masses take up space, and when they do, they tend to invade nerves. Moreover, if cancer invades the nerves, this disrupts signal transmission.

Some forms of chemotherapy and radiation used to treat cancer inadvertently cause nerve damage.

7. Substance Toxicity

Chemotherapy isn’t the only thing that has the potential to damage nerves. Some gout medications and antibiotics have a toxic effect on the peripheral nerves. They may act on the axon or degrade the myelin sheath.

The myelin sheath insulates the axons and increases the transmission speed of signals from neuron to neuron. Are you worried if any of your current medications can cause nerve damage? Check out this list of medications with a predilection to damage nerves to see if you are using them.

Are you looking for forms of treatment? Here are some of your options.

Nonsurgical

The quicker you get a diagnosis, the better your prognosis. Treatment corresponds to the degree of nerve damage. You might get away with nonsurgical treatments if you suffer from mild nerve damage.

Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of the following treatments.

Depending on your diagnosis, the medication either restores normal nerve signals or reduces the pain. Massage therapy manipulates your body’s soft tissues and reduces body pain. Physical therapy is a noninvasive discipline that rehabilitates, restores sensation and mobility.

Acupuncture strategically stimulates nerves to restore balance and promote natural healing. Orthotics are braces for the feet that adjust and promote healthy posture.

Nerve damage caused by underlying conditions such as diabetes, lupus, or obesity requires treatment of the root cause. Modifying your diet and exercise regimen may follow. As they say, a healthy body is only a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle.

Surgical

More severe nerve injuries often necessitate invasive procedures. These procedures include:

  • Brachial plexus surgery
  • Nerve graft
  • Nerve entrapment surgery
  • Nerve transfer surgery
  • Stem cells for neuropathy
  • Open decompression surgery

These surgeries are site-specific. They attend to the root cause, such as nerve impingement, nerve cutting, or degeneration, and attempt to restore function.

Everything You Need to Know About Nerve Injuries

Nerve injuries and their effects are variable. Obtaining a diagnosis as soon as possible improves your treatment outcomes and chances for recovery. Take care of the nerves coursing through your body.

Thank you for reading our article! To learn more about your body and the health decisions you control, check out our other blog posts. Have the nerve to repair your nerves.

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