What are the peripheral nerves?

Peripheral nerves carry simple commands from the brain to the legs, arms, hands and feet. They enable people to perform such basic activities as bending the elbow, buttoning a shirt and stepping forward.

The peripheral nervous system is a vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) to every other part of the body. Peripheral nerves also send sensory information back to the brain and spinal cord, such as a message that the feet are cold or a finger is burned. Damage to these nerves can interfere with these vital connections.

What are signs of peripheral nerve injuries?

Because every peripheral nerve has a highly specialized function in a specific part of the body, a wide array of symptoms can occur when nerves are damaged. Some children may experience:

  • temporary numbness
  • tingling and pricking sensations (paresthesia)
  • sensitivity to touch
  • muscle weakness

Others may suffer more extreme symptoms, including:

  • burning pain (especially at night)
  • muscle wasting
  • paralysis
  • organ or gland dysfunction

Nerve injuries can be repaired, so it’s important to seek care as soon as possible.

What about treatment?

Injuries to the shoulder, arms and legs are common—numbering in the hundreds of thousands each year. Yet specialists who treat these regions of the body often are focused on other types of injuries and have limited expertise with the peripheral nervous system.

Plastic Surgery provides treatment for peripheral nerve injuries and disorders. Your child will be evaluated by a team of doctors who specialize in the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries. This team typically includes plastic and reconstructive surgeons, neurosurgeons, neurologists and therapists to offer comprehensive treatment of peripheral nerve injuries and disorders.

We offer the most advanced techniques, including grafting and nerve transfer procedures for severe nerve injuries. A variety of surgical techniques are used to reroute healthy nerves to areas of the body left paralyzed by damaged nerves.

Pain therapy is provided for conditions ranging from trigeminal neuralgia to headaches. Treatment also is offered for common and more complex nerve-compression injuries.

What are examples of such injuries?

Conditions include:

  • Nerve compression syndromes
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Cubital tunnel syndrome
    • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
    • Peroneal nerve entrapment
    • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Nerve injuries
  • Pain

Who should I call?

Dr. Alison K. Snyder-Warwick, a plastic surgeon specializing in peripheral nerve injuries, may be reached at 314.454.KIDS (5437) or 800.678.KIDS.