The peripheral nervous system can best be described as the body’s wiring system. It links the central nervous system, formed by the brain and spinal cord, via a network of 43 pairs of sensory and motor nerves to external stimuli. The brain then sends messages back through this system of nerves to the muscles, enabling movement, speech, and sense activation. Nerves are complex, delicate structures, susceptible to injury and if severe damage occurs, they may require surgery.
What are peripheral nerve injuries?
Serious injury to peripheral nerves is painful and can have a debilitating effect on everyday activities. Causes of damage to peripheral nerves include: a tear/cut to the nerve’s tissue; being stretched, crushed, or bruised; electrical, thermal or radiation damage; injection injury; metabolic injury, and vascular (artery or vein) trauma. Nerve damage ranges from mild to severe and can be a mixture. The following symptoms are associated with serious nerve injury: constant, intense pain; a burning/shooting sensation; numbness/complete loss of sensation in the affected area, and pins and needles. Early treatment of nerve damage maximises the chance of effective recovery.
Peripheral nerve injury treatment at Harley Street Specialist Hospital
Harley Street Specialist Hospital provides up-to-the-minute expertise in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of peripheral nerve injuries including:
Nerve injury after fracture or surgery
Nerves are sited close to joints and bones, so fractures, dislocation or surgery can also be associated with nerve injury. When a nerve is injured, prompt assessment by a nerve surgeon is critical as undue delay may lead to a suboptimal outcome. Depending on the severity of the nerve injury, treatment may include careful monitoring, neurolysis (in order to free the nerve), nerve repair, nerve grafting or nerve transfer. In addition, physiotherapy and adequate pain relief are integral to the overall management of any nerve injury.
A neuroma is a swollen jumble of nerve cells caused by a nerve injury, which can occur anywhere in the body and is often very painful. There are numerous non-surgical and surgical treatment options which can help ease the pain.
Entrapment syndrome ("trapped nerve")
Entrapment syndrome occurs when nerves become compressed or trapped due to trauma or overuse, causing pain, tingling, weakness, and numbness. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a well-known example of this condition. Corticosteroid injection, splint, and physical therapy may be tried initially, but surgery to release the compressed nerve may be needed. Peripheral nerves in the arm and leg are both vulnerable to compression giving rise to a number of entrapment syndromes, including (in the arm) cubital tunnel syndrome, Guyon canal syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome, Wartenberg’s syndrome, and quadrilateral space syndrome; (in the leg) meralgia paraesthetica, piriformis syndrome, common peroneal nerve compression, and tarsal tunnel syndrome.
Parsonage-Turner syndrome, also known as neuralgic amyotrophy, is typified by an intense pain which precedes a muscular paralysis. The condition is believed to be caused by inflamed nerves. It may start spontaneously and may be triggered by a cold or unaccustomed exertion. It may get better on its own over time, but some may suffer from persistent pain and disability. The majority can thus be treated non-operatively with painkillers and physiotherapy, but there is an emerging role for nerve surgery in select patients. The most commonly affected nerve is the long thoracic nerve, which results in scapular winging (abnormal protruding of shoulder blade).
Why choose Harley Street Specialist Hospital?
At Harley Street Specialist Hospital, you can expect:
- Our expert consultant peripheral nerve surgeon to offer rapid assessment and the latest treatments in comfortable central London surroundings, as well as video consultations from the comfort of your own home.
- Holistic care where you are an equal partner in the creation of your individualised treatment plan.
- State of the art diagnostic imaging – you don’t need to go elsewhere as we have in house X-ray, ultrasound and image intensifiers.
- Day-case and outpatient investigations and surgical procedures in a modern clinical setting.
- No waiting lists and your treatment can take place at a convenient time for you.
We welcome patients with private medical insurance or those wishing to pay for their own treatment.