Peripheral Nerve Conditions

Peripheral nerves—the part of the nervous system that is not your brain or spinal cord, but the nerves that radiate out toward your body—can be damaged by many types of injury or trauma, as well as from conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Motor neuron diseases, like Lou Gehrig's disease
  • Nutritional deficiencies, including lack of B6 and B12 vitamins
  • Infectious disease
  • Medication side effects

 General symptoms of damaged peripheral nerves include:

  • Weakness
  • Pain
  • Twitching, tingling, or burning
  • Inability to sense pain

Your MedStar Health specialist will conduct a thorough examination, including a neurological exam to assess nerve function and determine the origin of the damage. Depending on the cause, a treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

  • Medications, to control the symptoms
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Surgery, to release the compression around the nerves.

 The following are peripheral nerve conditions treated by MedStar Health specialists.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Migraines Headaches and Occipital Neuralgia
  • Chronic Pain Following Surgery or Trauma
  • Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Meralgia Paresthetica
  • Peripheral Nerve Tumors
  • Peroneal Nerve Neuropathy
  • Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a space in the wrist where a nerve and nine tendons pass from the forearm into the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of hand nerve entrapment that occurs when swelling in the tunnel compresses the median nerve. As a result of the pressure on the median nerve, patients with carpal tunnel syndrome may experience pain and weakness in the hand, wrist, or fingers. Often, this must be treated surgically before the nerve is irreversibly damaged.

Chronic Migraines Headaches and Occipital Neuralgia

A migraine is a common type of headache that can occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or sensitivity to light. In many people, the throbbing pain is felt on only one side of the head. A migraine is different from a tension headache, although some people suffer from a mixed tension migraine, which has features of both a migraine and a tension headache. For patients with chronic migraines who do not find relief with medications or lifestyle changes, peripheral nerve surgery may be the answer. More information on headaches is available here.

Chronic Pain Following Surgery or Trauma

Patients who suffered a trauma or had to undergo a surgery may experience chronic pain and/loss of sensation afterward. Chronic pain is defined as pain persistent beyond the normal recovery time for a given trauma or surgery.

Examples of chronic pain following surgery or trauma include:

  • Groin pain after hernia repair surgery or following a c-section or hysterectomy
  • Knee pain following knee replacement or arthroscopy
  • Breast pain after breast reconstruction or other breast surgery
  • Upper or lower extremity pain following orthopaedic surgery
  • Amputation stump pain, also called phantom limb pain

Often, the cause of chronic pain is nerve damage, because the nerve itself was damaged directly, or the nerve is caught in the scar tissue as the body heals itself. Medication is often prescribed to treat the symptoms, however as tolerance to the medicine grows, it becomes less and less effective. And surgery becomes an option.

Learn more about surgical treatments here