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August 07, 2019

Nerve pain is very common across many populations. It can vary in its source, location, intensity, and prognosis. One particular type of nerve pain is known as peripheral nerve pain. This is pain that orientates outside of the spine. Often the injured nerves are the large nerves that feed the arms or legs. 

Causes of this pain can include a traumatic injury or wound, a compression injury (think carpal tunnel syndrome) or an injury to a nerve as a result of a disease. One of the most common diseases causing nerve injury is diabetes. 

Depending upon the type and severity of the injury symptoms vary. They can begin with something as simple as numbness, or as significant as lightning-like pain down the leg. 

Much of the success is recovery from these injuries appears to be how far the injury site is from the location of symptoms. For example, if symptoms are present in the foot and the injury to the nerve is in the hip there is less likelihood that the nerve will fully regenerate. 

While some studies have shown a nerve may regenerate at 1mm per day, there are others that say even in ideal circumstances it may take 1-2 years for the nerve to fully heal. 

The big take away from this is if a nerve is injured it can take time. If you are getting promises of full and quick recovery, or simple fixes this may not be accurate information. 

There have been certain medications that help the nerve regeneration process, as well as naturally produced substances in the body including VEGF and EPO. Electrical stimulation has also highlighted promising results across a number of studies. 

One thing is certain, the more movement that can occur to the area following the acute phase of the injury the better, especially if the injured nerve is responsible for movement. 

If you have suffered from a peripheral nerve injury what has helped you on your road to recovery? Comment below. 

Source: Zochodne, DW. (2012) The challenges and beauty of peripheral nerve regrowth. Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System, 17, 1,  1-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8027.2012.00378.x.

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