Symptoms of Nerve Damage
When the nerves of the hand and arm are injured common symptoms can include a loss of muscle control, strength and sensation. If left untreated, these muscles can atrophy, or weaken, to the point of being non-functional. Nerve damage can also result in pain and weakness in the hand and fingers.
Causes of Nerve Damage
Any traumatic injury to hands or fingers that causes pressure, excessive stretching, or cuts a nerve can result in damage to the nerves in the hand and arm. If sufficient pressure is applied to nerve fibers, they may tear. The same can happen when nerves are stretched. Compression injuries, also called repetitive motion nerve damage, are worsened when that activity or motion is continued. These injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome.
Your Treatment Options
After nerve repair, the rehabilitation focuses on three areas: initial immobilization to protect the repair; joint movement to promote movement of the nerve; and motor and sensory reeducation. Typically, the injured body part is placed in a safe position orthosis to protect the repair site for approximately 3 weeks. However, many times, it is appropriated to allow a little motion to make sure the nerve does not become stuck in the scar tissue. Once the nerve is healed the patient is taught how to compensate for loss of the ability to feel in the area affected by the nerve injury. A fingertip that does not feel can be easily injured by touching something too hot or sharp. If the nerve injury involves much of the hand, it may be necessary to help the individual learn how to move the fingers/wrist in a more normal fashion because muscles that are dependent on the injured nerve to make the arm/wrist/hand/finger may have been damaged. This can result in abnormal movement. Alternative strategies and movement patterns may be necessary to perform everyday tasks. Therapists work with the person to develop greater dexterity and compensate for loss of feeling.