Can a Neurosurgeon Repair Nerve Damage?

Neurosurgical Treatment Options for Repairing Nerve Damage in Peripheral and Central Nervous Systems

The short answer is Yes. Neurosurgeons are medical experts who diagnose and treat nervous system conditions and injuries. When thinking about a neurosurgeon, people usually think about issues in the brain or spine. But we may not consider that our nerves run through our entire body, including the face, arms, and legs, to activate our muscles and detect sensations in our world. With that in mind, we realize that neurosurgeons can support function and comfort throughout your body by providing treatment options that protect the nervous system, alleviate nerve injuries, and repair nerve damage. Neurosurgeons can perform surgical interventions that either directly repair nerves via grafts and transplants or indirectly repair nerves by fixing the structures and spaces around them.

Your nervous system is divided into two major parts: the central and peripheral nervous systems. As the name suggests, the central nervous system consists of two centrally located organs: the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system includes the nerves running throughout the rest of your body. Nerve damage can occur in any part of these systems due to injury, illness, lifestyle choices, or chronic disease.

Although some nerve injuries or diagnoses can be permanent, several conditions can be repaired or improved with the proper treatment for neurological conditions from a skilled neurosurgeon in South Florida. Below are some examples of when and how neurosurgery can help repair nerve damage in the peripheral and central systems.

Neurosurgical Treatment and Restoring Peripheral Nerve Health

Damage to peripheral nerves can occur instantaneously or chronically over time due to injury, illness, or lifestyle choices. This damage can result in nerves that are overstretched, crushed, or cut. They can be complete or partial injuries involving only the neuron, only the sheath, or the entire nerve structure. Compared to the brain and spinal cord, peripheral nerves have a much higher chance of regrowing nervous tissues to self-heal and repair the damage (i.e., neuroregeneration). This is because the lining of peripheral nerves houses Schwann cells that generate the protective outer covering called the neuronal sheath. Growing approximately one inch per month, or one millimeter per day, Schwann cells gradually help to restore the nerves and nerve function over time.

In cases where nerve regeneration is unlikely or impossible, some surgical options to directly repair the peripheral nerve damage may be available. Surgical options depend on the type, location, and severity of nerve damage. For example, Dr. Morrison may perform a neurolysis procedure to remove built-up scar tissue around the nerve or conduct a neurorrhaphy to suture cut nerve endings back together. When there are larger stretches of damaged or separated nerve endings due to injury, or he may opt to perform either a nerve graft or nerve transplant (i.e., neurotization). Nerve grafts are typically harvested from the patient’s healthy leg nerves or a donor cadaver. The harvest nerve is then used to bridge severed nerve endings to rebuild the injured nerve pathway. By comparison, nerve transplants bypass the damaged area and create a new neural pathway by cutting a healthy, neighboring nerve and connecting it to the old nerve ending. All of these surgical interventions directly repair or remodel the primary source, the damaged nerve itself.

Whether your nerve injury requires surgical intervention, time for self-healing, or a combination of approaches, the Palm Beach neurosurgery experts at Morrison Clinic can help to evaluate and recommend the best treatment approach to rehabilitate your peripheral nerve damage.

Repairing Spinal Cord Nerve Damage

Like the peripheral nerves, your brain and spine rely on a degree of neuroregeneration and neuroplasticity to recover after injury. However, the central nervous system experiences less neuroregeneration with fewer available direct surgical repair options. Instead, surgical treatments for nerve damage in the brain and spinal cord typically focus on indirectly repairing the effects of nerve damage or preventing secondary damage. Here are some potential neurosurgical treatment approaches that could improve your central nervous health.

When repairing your spine, some of the most common nerve repair approaches include surgeries that remove or reinforce parts of the bony vertebrae to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord or related nerve branches. Over time or after an injury, the vertebrae or spaces between your vertebrae can shift, shrink, or lose their shape. These changes in your spine can lead to injury, compression, or irritation of the spinal cord and nerve branches that run within and between your spine. Dr. Morrison can perform various procedures that may remove pieces of, correct deformities in, or fuse the vertebrae to protect or create space in the spinal column. This space reduces pressure on the nerves or spinal cord to support healing and reduces symptoms such as pain, weakness, decreased sensation, and decreased coordination. Examples of these common spine surgeries to enhance nervous system health include laminectomy, discectomy, vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, and spinal fusions.

Damage to the brain tissues and neurons can also be indirectly prevented or improved by neurosurgical techniques. There may be clusters or tangles of blood vessels, tumors, trauma, or other abnormalities that injure or impair the brain. Like spine surgery, Dr. Morrison can perform procedures to correct these brain abnormalities and relieve pressure on the neurons and nervous tissues. Neurosurgical treatment interventions that reduce pressure or remove obstructions in the brain allow for better blood flow to brain tissues and lessen stress on the neurons allowing for healing, proper functioning, and reduced symptoms.

Even though there are surgical options to repair some forms of central nervous system (brain and spine) damage, it is important to remember that not all nerve conditions or injuries can be directly surgically corrected. For example, nerve damage in brain and spinal cord injuries caused by strokes, ruptured aneurysms, anoxia, herniated discs, falls, or other traumatic events often can not be directly treated with surgery. These conditions often rely primarily on the body’s potential neuroplasticity, or repetition and reorganization of neural connections, to repair old or build new nerve pathways after the injury. However, surgical interventions may be needed to prevent further nerve damage and manage symptoms. Dr. Morrison can work with you and other skilled providers to recommend surgical and nonsurgical treatments to indirectly repair central nerve damage and its effects.

Neurosurgical Treatment for Repairing Nerves at Morrison Clinic

When it comes to your nerve health, you want the best possible neurosurgical care. At Morrison Clinic, Dr. John F. Morrison specializes in providing excellent neurosurgical interventions to repair existing and prevent further nerve damage. An expert neurosurgeon in South Florida widely regarded by patients and peers, he is extensively trained to diagnose and treat central and peripheral nerve conditions. Dr. Morrison uses his years of training and experience to support your health and neurosurgery needs. To learn about your options for repairing or preventing nerve damage, contact Morrison Clinic for a consultation at one of our convenient South Florida locations.