Your peripheral nervous system contains 43 pairs of nerves that connect your central nervous system to the rest of your body (hence the name “peripheral”). While these nerves are extremely important to your ability to feel, coordinate, and move your way through your world, they’re also very fragile, and are prone to becoming injured in areas like the hands and wrists.
As Pittsburgh’s top specialist in nerve repair surgery in the hands and wrists, UPMC’s Alexander Spiess, MD is one of the most experienced, qualified, and skilled practitioners in his field. Dr. Spiess specializes in providing effective, long-term treatment for traumatic injury to peripheral nerves, and by using cutting-edge techniques, he offers his patients thorough, compassionate care that is focused on helping them return to full functionality and find relief from debilitating pain.
Two of the most common types of traumatic nerve injury you can sustain to your peripheral nervous system are lacerations and stretched nerves. Both of these types of injuries can compromise your ability to move and feel your hands, and often require surgery to correct.
The term “nerve laceration” refers to a type of injury in which your nerve has been cut or torn due to a traumatic event. Lacerations can happen for a wide variety of reasons, from car accidents to work-related injuries involving sharp objects.
The condition of having stretched nerves, also known as neurapraxia, happens when a nerve has been pulled, stretched, or even pressed beyond its natural capability. Interestingly, this condition doesn’t actually affect the nerve itself -- instead, it compromises the sheath that surrounds the nerve.
If a nerve has been lacerated or stretched, it will need to be repaired by an experienced surgeon like Dr. Spiess, who will do what he can to restore as much sensation and functionality as possible. Dr. Spiess will work alongside you to develop a treatment plan that accounts for your personal recovery goals and offers long-term relief from your pain, discomfort and loss of mobility.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that courses from your neck into each of your arms, allowing you to move and sense all throughout your shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, and hands. Like the rest of your peripheral nervous system, these nerves are vital, but fragile, and a traumatic injury to any of them can cause a loss of movement, weakness or numbness that can compromise your quality of life.
While some injuries to the brachial plexus will heal on their own over time, others will require surgical intervention to provide long-term, effective relief for muscle weakness, loss of motion, and loss of sensation. If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of brachial plexus damage without improvement for some time, it’s time to speak to a highly-experienced surgeon like Dr. Spiess about your options for nerve repair surgery, or even nerve transfer surgery.
Yes. Much like tendon transfers, nerve transfer surgery requires a period immobilization of about 4 weeks to heal.
Dr. Spiess is experienced in performing nerve transfer for brachial plexus treatment and other conditions that cause paralysis of the shoulder, elbow, and hands. Typical nerve transfers that Dr. Spiess performs include:
Dr. Spiess generally performs nerve transfer to treat the following nerve injuries: