Nerve root and plexus injury treatment
Damage to the nerve roots and plexuses is a relatively common nerve disorder. They are caused by the pressure of neighbouring structures, stretching or pinching. Doctors make a diagnosis after a comprehensive physical and visual examination. Depending on the extent of the damage, treatment may be medications or surgery (decompression or nerve transplant).
Damage to the nerve roots is called radiculopathy. A nerve plexus disorder is also called plexopathy.
- Depending on the location of the lesion, radiculopathy can be cervical, thoracic, lumbosacral, or mixed (polyradiculopathy).
- Neurologists distinguish such types of plexopathy: cervical, brachial, and lumbosacral.
The causes of disorders of the nerve roots and plexuses can be trauma, hernia, degenerative changes, tumours in the spinal cord, and infectious diseases.
The most common forms of lesions of the nerve roots and plexuses are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (causes a problem in the wrist due to the effect on the median nerve).
- Brachial plexus injuries;
- Thoracic outlet syndrome;
- Transverse myelitis (inflammation of the transverse region of the ridge).
- Spinal muscular atrophy.
Damage to the nerves and plexuses causes issues in that part of the body that these nerves innervate. Common symptoms are the following:
- Sharp, shooting pain (may radiate to other parts of the body);
- Weakness, tingling, numbness, burning of limbs;
- Loss of sensation;
- Loss of movement (paresis, paralysis).
Treatment of mild injuries to the nerve roots and plexuses is frequently limited to conservative methods. For serious injuries or hernias, neurosurgeons perform operations. For example, neurosurgeons might perform nerve decompression, neurolysis or nerve transplant surgeries. Chemo- or radiation therapy is also used for disorders provoked by tumours. In addition, physicians use rehabilitation care to restore the function of a limb or a damaged area of the body (exercise therapy, physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, swimming, robotic rehabilitation, etc.).
Usually, nerve root and plexus disorders have a good prognosis. Elimination of the cause and successful rehabilitation, as a rule, contribute to the complete restoration of nerve function. However, some residual effects may remain forever if treatment is started late.