Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage on peripheral nerves, which connect the rest of your body with your brain and spinal cord. When the nerves are damaged, then your brain cannot communicate well with the rest of your body, thus causing symptomatic effects. Nerve injury can be caused by a number of things including unnecessary pressure on the nerve, injuries from an accident, and other conditions such as cancer, diabetes, Carpal tunnel syndrome, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Peripheral neuropathy can either be mild or severe depending on the extent the nerves are affected. In some cases, the fibers which act as insulations to the nerves may be involved. Such kind of peripheral neuropathy is easy to treat compared to when the fibers are affected alongside a nerve or more to the extent that the nerve has been cut.[1]

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Is There A Surgery For Peripheral Neuropathy?

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Is There A Surgery For Peripheral Neuropathy?

Nerve decompression surgery is an effective way of treating pain associated with peripheral neuropathy, and any other complications one may be experiencing related to the condition. It can help with reversing symptoms of numbness and tingling, and in most cases, prevent amputation. For individuals with diabetes, in most cases, peripheral neuropathy is usually progressive and it is difficult to reverse damages caused. For individuals with diabetes and carpal tunnel syndrome, peripheral nerve decompression has proved effective in that after the surgery, they regained sensation in their hands. Additionally, the pain was greatly improved.

Patients with peripheral neuropathy where the ulnar nerve, and subsequently the radial sensory nerves, are involved, surgically decompressing the nerves can help patients regain sensation in their “gloved” distribution of “polyneuropathy sensory deficit.” This is in cases where patients have already undergone peripheral nerve decompression surgery, and the sensation was not regained in the entire upper extremities. For those with symptoms of numbness and tingling in their lower extremities, nerve decompression surgery of the lower extremity peripheral nerve can help with reducing the symptoms and improving pain. As a result, in postoperative care, patients exhibit immediate sensory improvement with improved motor function.[2]

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Damaged nerves can also be surgically repaired through an exploration of the injured nerve and removal of injured tissue or scar from the nerve endings. Thereafter, the nerve can be directly reconnected if there is enough length on the ends to allow for a good quality repair without tension. In cases where the amount of tissue removed for nerve repair leaves a large gap, then a non-essential nerve is sacrificed from a separate location on the body, often from the leg or upper arm, and used to bridge the nerve gap. During recovery, the fibers within the nerve, known as axons, begin to grow from the repair site towards the lost target tissues of skin and muscle to restore sensation and movement. This may take weeks or months, considering that the nerve is growing at a rate of 1mm per day.[3]

When Is Surgery For Peripheral Neuropathy Considered?

Surgical repair for nerve damage is often considered in cases where a patient has peripheral neuropathy due to injury, say from an accident or fall, and nerve compression. Also, if you've been having pain for over three months in a specific area of your body, and other treatment methods don't seem effective, then surgery can be performed to help ease the pain. Patients who've undergone various diagnostic tests and nothing substantial has been found to cause pain, surgery may be done to find the root of the problem then try to repair the damage so as to get rid of the pain. Other cases considered for surgery to improve peripheral neuropathy are cases where a patient has had pain for three months or more following a previous surgery - knee replacement, leg, ankle or foot operations, hip replacement, hernia repair, mastectomy, abdominal surgery, or chest surgery, to name a few. For patients with diabetes, if they start experiencing new pain in their foot, surgery can be performed to relieve that pain.[4]

Conclusion

If you have peripheral neuropathy and you've tried all you can to help with the pain and nothing seems to work, there's some good news. As a last resort, you can ask your doctor if you are eligible for surgical treatment for nerve damage, which can either be a decompression surgery or nerve repair surgery, in cases where the nerve is cut. These surgeries have proved beneficial in many patients with peripheral neuropathy, and have had great improvement since then in terms of pain improvement and even regaining mobility function where it had been lost.

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Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: August 17, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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