Within the body, there exists a very complex system, which is much like the postal service. Its intended purpose is to transmit messages from one part of the body to another. If a certain area aches, for instance, then the message must first be carried to the brain. From there, a series of messages are released and sent to varying parts of the body in order to cause those areas to respond accordingly.
The post offices of the body are the nerves and the messenger carriers are the neural transmitters. Protecting all of that is a sheath, which acts as a barrier and defends against damage from outside sources. Yet, the sheath cannot defend against all accidents and nerve damage is not uncommon. The results can vary, but there are a few factors that have remained consistent – the older a person is, the more likely nerve damage is and when nerves are damaged, the patient will want relief.
Nerve damage in the hands can result in a series of different sensations including numbness, stabbing pain, tingling, or complete loss of feeling. It is very important to note these changes, and any others associated with nerve damage, so medical attention is received as soon as possible. There are certain red flags to look for.
The first question that most medical professionals will ask a person after injury is to inquire about tingling or numbness in the fingers. This is the first thing that most patients of nerve damage report. Weakness or difficulty performing certain tasks with the affected hand can point to motor nerve damage. This should be taken very seriously as well. However, not all symptoms are so subtle. Many nerve damage patients report one thing as being the ultimate source of them seeking medical attention – pain! Excruciating pain, whether sharp, shooting, or constant is common and in many instances it will eventually be replaced by a complete lack of sensation. When both types of nerves – motor and sensory – are damaged severely, hands may lose all ability to move, function, and feel.
It likely comes as no surprise that nerve damage can strike fear in any sufferer. The idea of losing feeling, suffering extreme pain, or dealing with an inability to move one’s hand can be daunting. To the medical community, however, this is not a reason for panic. It is, however, a call to action. Before the problem can be corrected, the underlying cause must be determined. That is, the exact area of nerve damage and the extent of it are necessary bits of information if one hopes to alleviate the issue.
Minor nerve damage may call for nothing more than rest. The hand should be used only when absolutely necessary until it has had an opportunity to heal. In some instances, the doctor will provide a sling to keep the limb immobilized during this process. Massage, hot and cold packs, and pain killers are also frequently used to provide relief to the patient. Swelling and inflammation is a reason for concern as well. This is frequently treated with anti-inflammatory medications or prescription steroids, as it can add to the discomfort and healing time.
In situations where the nerve damage is extensive or irreversible, surgery is an option. Grafting or rerouting nerves can help bring life back to the hand, but this will likely be accompanied by a period of physical therapy to retrain the hand after the initial recovery time.
Regardless of the extent of injury, nerve damage should not be ignored. If left untreated, the circumstances can become much worse. If you have suffered an injury to your hand and feel any of the sensations (or lack thereof) addressed above, please seek the attention of your doctor immediately.