Nerves are fragile and can be damaged by pressure, stretching, or cutting. Injury to a nerve can stop signals to and from the brain, causing muscles not to work properly, and a loss of feeling in the injured area.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve are usually felt in the extremities, either the arms or legs, depending on where the pinched nerve occurred. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain that radiates along the nerve path, and a sensation of pins and needles. The longer the nerve remains compressed the more chance there is that permanent damage may occur. Because of this, it is important to seek treatment as soon as the condition is diagnosed.
Several things can be done to keep up muscle activity and feeling while waiting for the nerve to heal.
Physical therapy will keep joints flexible. If the joints become stiff, they will not work, even after the muscles begin to work again.
If a sensory nerve has been injured, care must be taken not to burn or cut fingers because there is no feeling in the affected area.
With a nerve injury, the brain may need to be "re-educated." After the nerve has recovered, sensory re-education may be needed to improve feeling to the hand or finger. The physician will recommend appropriate physical therapy based on the nature and location of the injury.
Factors that may affect results after nerve repair include age, the type of wound and nerve, and location of the injury. Although nerve injuries may create lasting problems, proper treatment helps patients return to more normal function.