Dr. Sunishka Wimalawansa is a board-certified plastic surgeon, with additional specialized fellowship training and additional certifications in surgery of the hand and upper extremity, at Advanced Plastic and Hand Surgery serving Kettering, Ohio and Dayton, OH, who specializes in reconstructive surgery for upper extremity nerve-related injuries. Whether you’re dealing with tingling and numbness in your fingers that’s caused by nerve compression or a complex injury requiring surgical nerve grafting, Dr. Wimalawansa can help. Call today to make an appointment or consider using the clinic’s convenient online service to schedule your visit.
Nerves are part of the system that carries signals between the brain and the rest of your body. Motor nerves transport messages between the brain and muscles, which make your body move. Sensory nerves carry messages of pain, pressure, and temperature between your brain and other structures in your body.
When nerves are injured or damaged by disease, the signals to and from the brain stop working correctly. This can cause you to lose control of movement in your muscles or result in a loss of feeling in the injured area.
Nerves are composed of many fragile fibers called axons. These axons are bundled together in a protective tissue layer. Numerous bundles of axons exist within a nerve, which is also surrounded by a layer of protective tissue. A nerve actually very much resembles electrical wiring that’s covered by insulation. And like electrical wiring, nerves can be damaged by cutting, pressure, or stretching.
Pressure and stretching injuries may cause nerve fibers to snap without damaging the outer protective tissue. Cutting injuries sever both the protective tissue barrier and the nerve fibers within. If the protective layer surrounding the axons remains intact, the end of the nerve closest to the brain remains alive and can eventually heal. New nerve fibers may also grow within the intact insulation and attempt to reach a muscle or sensory reception.
Dr. Wimalawansa uses his surgical training and skill to save the nerve by reattaching the ends of the outer covering so that the encased fibers have a chance to heal and restore sensation and function to the affected area. If there’s a significant gap between nerve endings, he may use donor nerve tissue from another nerve to create a nerve graft that closes the space.
A nerve typically begins to heal within three to four weeks after surgery. They grow about an inch every month. So, if you were to sustain a nerve injury to your arm above the fingers, it could take a year before you experience normal sensation in your fingertips. A pins-and-needles sensation in your fingertips may be the first sign that your nerve is healing.