After a trauma, a large cut or surgery around the nerves, scar tissue forms. Scar tissue is both good and bad. It helps the nerve attach to nearby structures, but when the patient moves, pressure is placed on the nerve because the scar tissue can pull on the nerve. Even without movement, the scar tissue can reduce the nerve's blood supply. All of this can cause significant nerve pain.
The main symptom is constant, unrelenting pain coming from the nerve tissue.
To diagnose your condition, we will take a medical history and conduct a medical exam. Based on our findings, we may use the following diagnostic tools:
- Imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans or an MRI
- An EMG (nerve test) may be ordered to determine which nerves are functioning, which are not and the severity of the damage.
If non-surgical treatments such as medication and physical therapy do not help, or if the pain worsens, your options may include:
- Spinal cord and peripheral nerve stimulation (known as SCS or PNS), which use electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain that may be originating from compressed nerves. It is believed that electrical pulses prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. SCS and PNS candidates include people who suffer from neuropathic pain and for whom conservative treatments have failed.
- Surgery to remove the scars.
- Nerve graft if part of the nerve is missing, in which a nerve will be taken from another part of your body or from a donor.
If you need surgery, you can do several things to keep up muscle activity and feeling while waiting for the nerve to heal after surgery:
- Physical therapy
- If a sensory nerve has been injured, you must be careful to not burn or cut the affected area because it may be difficult to feel anything there.
- Sensory re-education may be needed to learn how to improve feeling in the affected area.