Nerve Damage After Surgery: What Are the Signs?

You underwent surgery to solve one problem, and came out with another one. You may have lost feeling in a limb, developed new weakness in your leg or feel a continual burning sensation in your arm.

Why Do I Feel Nerve Pain After Surgery?

Nerve pain after surgery, also called postoperative neuropathic pain, is nerve damage that presents itself as burning, stabbing, or shooting pain in the area where a patient has had surgery. This postoperative nerve pain can last for months, and in some cases, years. When nerve pain after surgery is ongoing it is called "chronic postoperative pain."

During the course of surgery, surgeons can inadvertently damage a nerve by putting too much pressure on, stretching or cutting a nerve. Depending upon the severity of the damage, your symptoms and possible treatment options vary. Do you know how to recognize signs of nerve damage?

How are nerves damaged during surgery?

Nerve damage can be temporary or permanent. During surgery, your nerves can be damaged by:

  • Patient positioning that puts undue stress on nerves
  • Damage from a surgical instrument
  • Severing a nerve
  • Stretching a nerve
  • Inflammation of tissue surrounding a nerve
  • Compression that prevents circulation

Some patients are more prone to nerve damage than others. Extenuating circumstances such as cancer, diabetes, smoking, heavy alcohol use and obesity can increase your risk of nerve damage.

What are the signs of nerve damage?

Depending upon the type of nerve damage, you can experience an array of symptoms including:

  • Numbness – if a nerve that transmits feeling is injured, you may experience a loss of sensation
  • Weakness – if a nerve in charge of mobility is injured, you may experience weakness
  • Pain– pain is a common symptom of nerve injuries, especially tingling or burning sensations
  • Physical changes – you may notice changes in muscle mass, skin color or perspiration levels

How can you treat nerve damage?

Consult with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for your situation and symptoms. A few popular treatments are listed below:

  • Pain medication
  • Acupuncture
  • Topical creams
  • Physical therapy
  • Additional surgery

If you sustain severe nerve damage during surgery, consider contacting an attorney who can help you investigate possible medical negligence and settle your claim.

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