Nerve Injury Symptoms and Treatments – Orthopedic Los Angeles

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Shoulder Nerve Injuries

Shoulder nerve damage occurs when the axillary nerve, which supplies the deltoid shoulder muscles, is affected by some type of trauma. Shoulder nerve damage may occur as a result of a direct shoulder injury like an auto accident or a sports injury.

Pressure or stretching injuries can cause fibers within the nerve to break. This may interfere with the nerve’s ability to send or receive signals, without damaging the cover.

When a nerve is cut, both the nerve and the insulation are severed. Sometimes, the fibers inside the nerve break while the insulation remains intact and healthy. If the insulation has not been cut, the end of the fiber farthest from the brain dies. The end that is closest to the brain does not die. After some time, it may begin to heal. New fibers may grow beneath the intact insulating tissue until it reaches a muscle or sensory receptor.

If both the nerve and insulation have been severed and the nerve is not fixed by a specialist like Dr. Kvitne, the growing nerve fibers may form a painful nerve scar, or neuroma.

Surgical Treatment

The insulation around both ends of the injured nerve is sewn together. The goal in fixing the nerve is to save the insulating cover so that new fibers can grow and the nerve can work again. If a wound is dirty or crushed, surgery may be delayed until the skin has healed.

If there is a space between the ends of the nerve, it may be necessary to take a piece of nerve (nerve graft) from a donor part of the body to fix the injured nerve. This may cause permanent loss of feeling in the area where the donor nerve graft was taken.

Once the insulating cover of the nerve is repaired, the nerve generally begins to heal three or four weeks after the injury. Nerves usually grow one inch every month, depending on the patient’s age and other factors. With an injury to a nerve in the arm above the fingertips, it may take up to a year before feeling returns to the fingertips. The feeling of pins and needles in the fingertips is common during the recovery process. While this can be uncomfortable, it usually passes and is a sign of recovery.

Pinched (Compressed) Nerve

Nerves extend from your brain and spinal cord, sending important messages throughout your body. If you have a pinched nerve (nerve compression) your body may send you warning signals such as pain. Don’t ignore these warning signals – seek the help of Dr. Kvitne at the first sings of pain. Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe. It may cause temporary or long-lasting problems. The earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment for nerve compression, the more quickly you’ll find relief. In some cases, you can’t reverse the damage from a pinched nerve. But treatment usually relieves pain and other symptoms.

Causes of Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve occurs when there is “compression” (pressure) on a nerve.

The pressure may be the result of repetitive motions. Or it may happen from holding your body in one position for long periods, such as keeping elbows bent while sleeping.

Nerves are most vulnerable at places in your body where they travel through narrow spaces but have little soft tissue to protect them.

Nerve compression often occurs when the nerve is pressed between tissues such as:

  • Ligament
  • Tendon
  • Bone

For example, inflammation or pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine may cause neck or low back pain. It may also cause pain to radiate from the neck into the shoulder and arm (cervical radiculopathy). Or pain may radiate into the leg and foot (sciatic nerve pain).

These symptoms may result from changes that develop in the spine’s discs and bones. For example, if a disc weakens or tears — known as a herniated disc — pressure gets put on a spinal nerve.

Nerve compression in your neck or arm may also cause symptoms in areas such as your:

  • Elbow
  • Hand
  • Wrist
  • Fingers

This can lead to conditions such as:

  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis elbow

If nerve compression lasts a long time, a protective barrier around the nerve may break down. Fluid may build up, which may cause:

  • Swelling
  • Extra pressure
  • Scarring

The scarring may interfere with the nerve’s function.

Symptoms of Pinched Nerves

With nerve compression, sometimes pain may be your only symptom. Or you may have other symptoms without pain.

These are some of the more common symptoms of compressed nerves:

  • Pain in the area of compression, such as the neck or low back
  • Radiating pain, such as sciatica or radicular pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • “Pins and needles” or a burning sensation
  • Weakness, especially with certain activities

Symptoms can worsen when trying certain movements, such as turning your head or straining your neck.

Treatment for Pinched Nerves

How long it takes for symptoms to end can vary from person to person. Treatment varies, depending on the severity and cause of the nerve compression.

You may find that you benefit greatly from simply resting the injured area and by avoiding any activities that tend to worsen your symptoms. In many cases, that’s all you need to do.

If symptoms persist or pain is severe, see Dr. Ronald Kvitne. You may need one or more types of treatment to shrink swollen tissue around the nerve.

In more severe cases, it may be necessary to remove material that’s pressing on a nerve, such as:

  • Scar tissue
  • Disc material
  • Pieces of bone

Treatment may include:

    • NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may reduce swelling.
    • Oral corticosteroids. These are used to reduce swelling and pain.
    • Narcotics. These are used for brief periods to reduce severe pain.
    • Steroid injections. These injections may reduce swelling and allow inflamed nerves to recover.
    • Physical therapy. This will help stretch and strengthen muscles.
    • Splint. A splint or soft collar limits motion and allows muscles to rest for brief periods.
    • Surgery. Surgery may be needed for more severe problems that don’t respond to other types of treatment.

Work with Dr. Ronald Kvitne to find the best approach for treating your symptoms.

Dr. Ronald Kvitne is an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in minimally invasive, arthroscopic surgery – should you require surgical intervention. Although surgery could alleviate your pain, Dr. Kvitne will do his best to avoid surgical intervention as many knee injuries can be treated through conservative measures such as medication and rehabilitation therapy.

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Doctor Ronald Kvitne, MD

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6801 Park Terrace Drive Los Angeles, CA 90045
301 N Lake Ave Pasadena, CA 91101

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