Hand Nerve Injury and Repair
IntroductionNerve injuries in the hand can result from cuts, pressure, stretching, or crush injuries. An injured nerve cannot transmit nerve signals. An injured nerve can cause a lack of sensation, movement, or both. Some types of nerve injuries may heal on their own. More severe nerve injuries require surgical repair.
The radial nerve supplies sensation to the area on the thumb side of the back of your hand. The radial nerve controls movements in the muscles on the back of your arm and forearm, which are mainly extensors. A branch of the radial nerve, the posterior interosseous nerve, controls extension movements in your wrist, fingers, and thumb. You use your extensor muscles to raise your hand up and straighten your fingers. The radial nerve also controls the main muscle/tendon that extends the thumb.
The median nerve supplies the sense of feeling in your thumb, index finger, middle finger, half of the ring finger, and the palm side of your hand. It also sends messages to the thenar muscles that move the thumb away from the palm (opposition). You use the thenar muscles to position your thumb to grasp and hold objects.
Nerve conduction studies measure how well a nerve works and help specify the site of injury. Doctors commonly use a nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test. During the study, a nerve is stimulated in one place and the amount of time it takes for the message or impulse to travel to a second place is measured. Your doctor will place sticky patches with electrodes on your skin that covers the nerve. The NCV may feel uncomfortable, but only during the time that the test is conducted.
RecoveryYour doctor will closely monitor your progress while you heal and proceed with therapy. Nerves grow slowly, at a rate of about an inch per month. Recovery time and the degree of recovery are different for everyone. It depends on many factors including your age, the degree of nerve injury, and the location of injury. Your doctor will let you know what to expect.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.