What Is a Peripheral Nerve Injury?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 May 2018
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A peripheral nerve injury occurs when there is damage involving one or more of the nerves that carry signals from the brain to other areas of the body. Some of the potential causes for this type of nerve damage include traumatic injury, exposure to environmental toxins, or disease processes such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Symptoms of a peripheral nerve injury may include sensations of numbness or tingling, pain, or muscle weakness. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the injury and may include dietary changes, prescription medications, or surgical intervention. Any specific questions or concerns about a peripheral nerve injury in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A traumatic event such as surgery or an automobile accident may sometimes cause a peripheral nerve injury. If the injury is minor, medications or physical therapy may be used to treat individual symptoms. When the damage to the nerves causes limited mobility, supportive devices such as crutches or splints may be recommended. Severe damage, such as severed nerves, may require surgical repair.

Exposure to environmental toxins such as pesticides or heavy metals can sometimes lead to peripheral nerve injury. Hospitalization is often necessary in these cases, as potentially life-threatening symptoms may be present as well. Intravenous medications are frequently used in an effort to remove these toxins from the body.


Diabetes is among the most common causes of peripheral nerve injury, especially in cases where blood sugar levels are not properly controlled. Dietary changes are frequently successful in treating this condition, although medications such as insulin may also be needed. Patients who are diabetic require frequent monitoring by a doctor in order to avoid potentially serious complications.

Multiple sclerosis is another possible cause of peripheral nerve injury. This disease effectively destroys the protective covering of the nerves, known as myelin. As this covering is destroyed, pain, numbness, and weakness develop, sometimes making it impossible for the patient to function independently. Treatment for those with this condition normally involves a combination of prescription medications as well as physical therapy.

There are a variety of medications that may aid in the treatment of a peripheral nerve injury. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications are often useful at treating any discomfort and may help the patient regain some degree of lost mobility. Some antidepressants may help with pain issues as well as allowing the patient to attain restful sleep. Anticonvulsants, which are typically used to treat seizure disorders, have been shown to help ease nerve pain in some patients.



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