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Peripheral nerve conditions

Peripheral nerve conditions

As a neurosurgeon, Dr. Foroohar treats conditions affecting the peripheral nervesin the arms and hands, and legs and feet. “Peripheral nerve conditions are very common. They can be related to repetitive use, work injuries or age,” she explains.

The most common peripheral nerve conditions I see are carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy,” Dr. Foroohar adds. “I treat those with surgery to release the nerve.”

What is carpal tunnel syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that produces numbness, tingling, burning or aching pain in the fingers and hand. “This condition results when the median nerve is compressed or damaged at the wrist,” says Dr. Foroohar.

What is ulnar neuropathy?

Ulnar neuropathy is a neurological condition caused by entrapment or pinching of the ulnar nerve at the elbow or wrist. “The result is numbness and tingling in the fourth and fifth fingers and arm,” Dr. Foroohar explains.

Dr. Foroohar answers questions about
peripheral nerve conditions

How do you perform surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome?

The carpal tunnel is right above the wrist on the palm side of the hand. We make a small incision and cut that ligament to free the nerve.

How is ulnar neuropathy treated surgically?

The ulnar nerve runs through the elbow. In patients with ulnar neuropathy, usually the nerve is slightly tethered or attached. We try to free it up, and sometimes mobilize it to the other side of the bone so there's no pull on it.

Are peripheral nerve injuries always caused by repetitive stress?

Not always. These could be repetitive-stress injuries, but sometimes they're not. Patients don't have to have a specific history of doing something to get carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuropathy.

You don't have to say, “Because I do this, I get it.” Anybody can get a peripheral nerve injury.

How do you diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome?

We can diagnose carpal tunnel based on your symptoms and the examination, but I always want an EMG. Without an EMG, I would never do surgery. We want neurophysiological evidence that the nerve is pinched and damaged.

How long is the recovery from peripheral nerve surgery?

It's not that the surgery is a big deal, but you use your hands a lot, so that limits you in going back to work. I usually keep patients off work for a month. It all depends on the kind of work you do.

Why choose a neurosurgeon for peripheral nerve conditions?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is treated by so many specialists—orthopedic surgeons, hand surgeons, plastic surgeons, general surgeons. Neurosurgeons operate on the brain and spinal cord, the nerve roots.

I do think that as neurosurgeons, we truly understand nerves the best. When it comes to freeing the nerve, the neurosurgeon's approach is going to be much more thorough in making sure the nerve is free.

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