Get Answers to Your Questions in Our Nerve Damage and Surgery FAQ

Why does my foot look different after my knee replacement surgery? Should it hurt to have sex after a C-section? How can I relieve the pressure on a trapped nerve? Our FAQ page has the answers you need to kick chronic pain for good.

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  • What is the difference between cluneal nerve entrapment and piriformis syndrome?

    woman with pain in her hip and buttockPiriformis syndrome and superior cluneal nerve entrapment can have similar symptoms, such as deep pain in the hip or buttock, but the two conditions also have major differences as well, including the type of treatment used to provide relief. Dr. Williams explains the similarities and differences between the two conditions and how he can treat either so you can get back to enjoying your regular activities without pain.

    Similarities and Differences Between Superior Cluneal Nerve Entrapment and Piriformis Syndrome

    Piriformis syndrome can mirror the symptoms of entrapment of the superior cluneal nerve since both conditions cause pain in the buttock or hip. The main difference between the two conditions is that with piriformis syndrome, sitting causes severe pain and discomfort, whereas with superior cluneal nerve entrapment, the pain subsides during periods of rest.

    In addition to deep pain in the buttock, piriformis syndrome can cause spasms or cramps in the buttock and other symptoms such as:

    • Numbness in the foot, leg, or buttock
    • A sensation of pins and needles in the leg
    • Increase in pain when doing activities such as running, squatting, or climbing stairs

    Superior cluneal nerve entrapment can cause pain in the buttocks and lower back and symptoms such as:

    • Burning sensation in the buttock
    • Pain that is to one side rather than concentrated in the middle
    • Pain that worsens with activity but reduces with rest

    Diagnosis and Treatment Options

    Since treatment options are different for piriformis syndrome and superior cluneal nerve entrapment, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to find relief. Both conditions can be difficult to diagnose and are often misdiagnosed. To determine if the cause of your pain is due to superior cluneal nerve entrapment, a nerve block may be injected into the area. If the pain disappears, the diagnosis would likely be confirmed.

    Diagnosing piriformis syndrome can be a challenge since there is not a single test to determine a diagnosis. Because other conditions such as superior cluneal nerve entrapment can cause similar symptoms, the two conditions can get misdiagnosed. To diagnose piriformis syndrome, a specialist will evaluate the pain and symptoms.

    To treat piriformis syndrome, a doctor will recommend rest and physical therapy. In addition, steroids or muscle relaxants may be used to relieve pain. When conservative treatments do not provide relief, a nerve specialist can perform nerve release surgery to release the sciatic nerve from the piriformis muscle. To treat superior cluneal nerve entrapment, a specialist will likely recommend decompression surgery of the cluneal nerve. 

    Since the treatment for piriformis syndrome and superior cluneal nerve entrapment are different, it is important to get the correct diagnosis and to see a peripheral nerve specialist such as Dr. Williams.

    Contact Our Office

    Dr. Williams has the expertise to treat both piriformis syndrome and superior cluneal nerve entrapment and can give the best advice to get you back to living pain-free. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • Will exertional compartment syndrome go away on its own?

    tennis player on ground with leg pain

    Exertional compartment syndrome causes severe muscle pain and cramping in the legs, making it difficult for athletes and those interested in high-intensity activities to participate due to pressure in the muscle compartment. Symptoms may stop with rest but can intensify when doing an activity.

    While modifying or avoiding certain physical activities may help with exertional compartment syndrome for some patients, others may require surgery to correct the underlying issue so they can get back to the activities they enjoy. Find out more about the different approaches—such as a nerve decompression or nerve release surgery—that Dr. Williams may recommend to treat this condition.

    Treating Exertional Compartment Syndrome

    There are both non-surgical and surgical approaches used to treat exertional compartment syndrome. Conservative treatments may include resting or changing from a high-intensity activity to one that is low-impact to provide relief. In addition, using pain medication or wearing custom orthotics can also help to minimize symptoms.

    For those who are athletes, non-surgical options may not be the solution since modifying or avoiding an activity will make it difficult to compete in the sport they enjoy. The symptoms may ease up when resting but flare up again when the person returns to the activity.

    Dr. Williams can evaluate the condition to confirm that it is exertional compartment syndrome and not another condition such as shin splints that is causing the pain. Once a diagnosis is made, Dr. Williams will recommend treatment based on the patient’s specific needs. Some options used to treat exertional compartment syndrome include:

    • Fasciotomy. This surgical procedure is the most effective treatment of chronic exertional compartment syndrome. It involves cutting open the inflexible tissue encasing each of the affected muscle compartments to relieve pressure.
    • Nerve release surgery. This type of surgery is done to free nerves that are compressed by the affected muscles. It may be done in addition to a fasciotomy or on its own.

    Contact Dr. Eric H. Williams for Help

    Don’t suffer from the symptoms of exertional compartment syndrome any longer. Our goal is to help ease your symptoms and get you back to enjoying your favorite activities as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • What is a stump neuroma?

    doctor bandaging man with amputated leg

    A stump neuroma occurs when nerve tissue is severed or detached and attempts to regrow, but since it cannot find the distal ending when doing so, it forms a ball of tissue on the end of the severed nerve instead. Having a limb amputation can result in a stump neuroma. It can also occur as a complication from surgery such as Morton’s neurectomy. A peripheral nerve specialist can offer a variety of treatments such as neuroma resection that can eliminate pain from a stump neuroma.

    Stump Neuroma Symptoms

    Stump neuromas can cause the same symptoms you experienced before having surgery and often worsen over time. The symptoms can become severe and debilitating and interfere with your daily activities. Stump neuromas have similar symptoms to a neuroma and can cause the following:

    • Shooting pain
    • Burning
    • Tingling
    • Numbness

    Symptoms from a stump neuroma can intensify and worsen when doing certain activities such as walking or when bearing weight on the affected foot. Wearing certain shoes can also aggravate the symptoms.

    Treatment Options for a Stump Neuroma

    A stump neuroma that is caused by an injury to the nerve during surgery or amputation can be treated in a variety of ways. A nerve specialist may recommend first trying conservative treatment options for a stump neuroma that include:

    • Cryotherapy
    • Radiofrequency ablation with or without a biologic
    • Injection of stem cells or steroids
    • Laser therapy
    • Custom orthotics

    If conservative treatments do not provide relief, revision surgery may be needed to provide relief and reduce pressure from the neuroma. One procedure that can be done is neuroma resection which surgically removes the damaged nerve tissue. Dr. Williams has had much success in treating pain from neuromas, and many of his patients report that they are now pain-free and no longer require daily pain medication.

    Contact a Peripheral Nerve Specialist

    If you are experiencing symptoms of a stump neuroma, contact Dr. Williams for a consultation today. Dr. Williams can design a treatment plan to fit your specific needs that can relieve pain and discomfort from a neuroma. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • What is nerve transfer surgery?

    doctor examining patient with foot drop nerve injuryNerve transfer surgery is a procedure that can be done to repair severely damaged nerves that result in a loss of sensation or muscle function. This type of procedure takes healthy, working nerves that are close to the damaged nerve and transfers them to the injured area where damage has occurred. The working nerve is “plugged in” to the nerve that no longer functions, much like power being restored to an electrical socket. The nerves being transferred have a less important role than the nerve that was damaged and being replaced. 

    Conditions Treated by a Nerve Transfer

    Nerve transfers are an effective method of restoring muscle function and sensation that was lost as a result of a nerve injury. If the injury to the nerve causes pain, numbness, loss of mobility, or weakness in the muscle, nerve transfer may be an option to consider. Some conditions that can be treated by a nerve transfer include:

    • Brachial plexus injuries
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Facial paralysis
    • Foot drop due to peroneal nerve entrapment

    Recovering From Nerve Transfer Surgery

    Nerve transfer surgery is performed by a nerve specialist and is done under general anesthesia. Patients may require an overnight hospital stay to monitor breathing and other vitals. After the procedure, the area operated on will be wrapped in a thick dressing to protect the nerves and prevent any movement. Pain medication may be prescribed to help with pain and discomfort. Pain is not typically severe after the procedure and may only exist for a few days. The dressing can be removed after three weeks. Occupational therapy may be used along with electrical stimulation to help with nerve recovery.

    Recovery can vary from patient to patient, and the length of recovery will depend on factors such as how far the nerve is from the targeted muscle it controls. Other factors that can affect recovery are the patient’s age, overall health, cause of the nerve damage, and how severe the injury to the nerve was. Full recovery can take from a few months to several years.

    Contact Us for Nerve Pain Treatment

    If you are experiencing nerve pain, contact Dr. Williams for a consultation. He can determine the cause of your pain and recommend a treatment plan to fit your specific needs. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • Can supraorbital nerve decompression relieve my migraines?

    Doctor looking at brain scan on computer tabletA branch of the optic nerve that provides sensation to the scalp is the supraorbital nerve. The supraorbital nerve can become compressed in various ways and cause migraines. Finding relief for migraines can be a challenge for many patients. One option to consider is nerve decompression surgery to remove anything that is irritating the nerve and causing the headaches. Many patients find this option to be successful in eliminating their migraine pain. Our peripheral nerve surgeon can determine if this is an option for your specific condition.

    Options for Treating Migraines

    Migraines can be caused by a variety of factors. One potential cause is compression of the supraorbital nerve, which causes migraine pain in the forehead above the eye. This type of nerve compression can be due to trauma, plastic surgery, or a viral infection. When the supraorbital nerve is compressed, it can cause migraine pain that is sharp, shooting, and tingling.

    To treat migraines due to supraorbital compression, a peripheral nerve surgeon may recommend the following:

    • Supraorbital nerve block. A block can be placed directly into the supraorbital nerve. This can provide temporary relief from certain types of migraine pain.
    • Nerve decompression surgery. Surgery can be done using small incisions above the eyebrow to remove muscle, tissue, or blood vessels that are compressing on the supraorbital nerve. It is done as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia and takes under three hours.

    Dr. Williams has performed nerve decompression surgery on patients with migraines caused by supraorbital nerve compression. This procedure was so successful for one of his patients that she was able to stop her migraine medications and no longer experiences debilitating migraine symptoms. Surgery has cured her migraines, and she is able to resume her daily activities after suffering from years of chronic migraine pain.

    If you have questions about supraorbital nerve decompression and whether it can relieve your migraine pain, contact Dr. Williams for an evaluation. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • Do I need surgery for a brachial plexus injury?

    man with brachial plexus injury

    The brachial plexus is a network of five nerves that control muscle movements and sensation in your hand, arm, and shoulder. An injury to the brachial plexus can result in muscle weakness, loss of sensation, or paralysis of the shoulder and upper limb muscles. If the injury is mild, it may heal on its own and not require treatment, but for more severe injuries, a nerve specialist may recommend nerve decompression surgery to help regain function of the hand or arm.

    Causes and Symptoms of a Brachial Plexus Injury

    There are many causes of a brachial plexus injury. An injury to the brachial plexus occurs when there is forceable pulling or stretching of the arm, and the head is pushed in the opposite direction. This type of injury can be the result of the following:

    • Fall
    • Automobile or motorcycle accident
    • Knife or gunshot wound
    • Cancer treatment

    Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury typically affect the hand and arm and may include:

    • Sudden pain
    • Muscle weakness
    • Numbness
    • Loss of sensation
    • Burning or stinging
    • Paralysis

    Treatment Options

    Surgery is not the first option for treatment for a brachial plexus injury since this type of injury can sometimes recover on its own. In addition to giving the injury time to heal, conservative treatments such as the following may be used:

    • Pain medications
    • Corticosteroid creams
    • Injections
    • Physical therapy exercises

    If the nerves do not heal on their own, surgery may be recommended. Surgery options for a brachial plexus injury may include:

    • Nerve repair to reconnect the torn edges of the damaged nerve
    • Nerve graft using a healthy nerve from another location to connect the ends of the separated nerve to help with healing
    • Nerve transfer to attach an inferior but functioning nerve to the damaged nerve to allow for new nerve growth
    • Tendon or muscle transfer if surgery cannot be performed to repair the damaged nerves

    If surgery is done for the injury, it can take time to see results. Since nerves only grow about one inch per month, it can take several weeks or months to notice improvement. During this time, you may need physical therapy and regular appointments with your nerve specialist. As you recover, the pain will diminish, and you should regain strength and sensation in your hands and arms.

    Dr. Williams has been successful in using nerve decompression surgery on patients with a brachial plexus injury. If you have questions about surgery for a brachial plexus injury, contact Dr. Williams for an evaluation. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.

  • Can peripheral neuropathy be caused by trauma?

    Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by trauma.One of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. However, this type of nerve damage can also be the result of a traumatic injury. 

    Peripheral neuropathy causes sharp, stabbing pain, tingling, and numbness in the feet and hands. It can make it difficult to walk or keep your balance. The type of treatment recommended for peripheral neuropathy depends on the root cause of the condition.

    Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

    Traumatic peripheral neuropathy can occur from the following:

    • Automobile accident
    • Slip and fall
    • Sports injury
    • Medical procedure

    These types of injuries can compress or stretch the nerves or detach them from the spinal cord. A slipped vertebrae disk or broken or dislocated bones can also cause pressure on nearby nerves and nerve fibers resulting in peripheral neuropathy.

    Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy

    If you are experiencing nerve pain from peripheral neuropathy, consult with Dr. Williams for diagnosis and treatment options. To diagnose the condition, the following may be done:

    • Physical and neurological exam
    • Blood tests
    • Imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI
    • Nerve function tests
    • Nerve biopsy

    Without proper treatment, peripheral neuropathy symptoms can last for months or years and gradually worsen over time. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and improve pain by allowing the nerves to heal. When peripheral neuropathy is caused by an injury and not from diabetes, treatments such as medication or lifestyle changes may not prove effective in providing relief.

    Nerve decompression surgery is an option to consider if peripheral neuropathy is interfering with your daily activities and cannot be controlled by conservative methods. Surgery is done to release pinched or compressed nerves that are causing pain and symptoms. The type of procedure done will depend on the root cause of the condition and the specific nerves that are affected.

    To schedule an appointment with Dr. Williams to discuss peripheral neuropathy treatment options, contact us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.


  • Is occipital neuralgia serious?

    Occipital neuralgia can cause chronic pain.Even though occipital neuralgia is not a life-threatening condition, it can have a serious impact on your overall quality of life. It can cause pain that interferes with daily activities and may prevent you from enjoying time with family or friends. 

    You can often find relief from the pain caused by occipital neuralgia through various treatments. When conservative treatments fail to bring the necessary relief, occipital nerve decompression surgery performed by a peripheral nerve surgeon can help. 

    Treating Occipital Neuralgia

    Occipital neuralgia can occur if there is a pinched or damaged occipital nerve that runs from the neck to the base of the skull. It can result in a chronic, intense headache that makes it difficult to do daily activities. While the pain from occipital neuralgia is similar to that of a migraine, the condition itself is more serious since it is nerve related. 

    In order to effectively treat occipital neuralgia, the source of the pain needs to be determined. To diagnose the condition and determine if a compressed occipital nerve is the cause of the pain, a nerve block may be done. If the nerve block temporarily provides relief from the pain, it can confirm the diagnosis of occipital neuralgia. 

    When conservative treatments such as medication do not provide relief, nerve decompression surgery can be done to release the occipital nerves from muscles or surrounding tissue that are compressing the nerves. This surgery is done as an outpatient procedure and you will be able to go home the same day.

    After the occipital release procedure, you may have restrictions to follow for several weeks. These include no heavy lifting or driving a vehicle. You may also feel tired and may need to take pain medication. Headaches from occipital neuralgia should be reduced after the first two weeks but numbness and tingling may be present until the nerves recover from the prior compressed condition.

    Find Relief From Occipital Neuralgia

    If you have occipital neuralgia and are looking for pain relief options, contact Dr. Williams to discuss if surgery may be the right choice for you. To schedule an appointment in the Baltimore office, call us at (410)709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.


  • Why does my surgical scar still hurt?

    Surgical scar pain can be treated.It is not uncommon for a surgical scar to hurt after an incision is healed. Scar tissue forms after surgery to heal a wound and can form internally or externally. This scar tissue can often cause pain due to a variety of reasons including an injury to the nerve. Dr. Williams can determine the cause of your surgical scar pain and recommend options that will best suit your needs.

    Common Causes for Surgical Scar Pain

    The most common cause of surgical scar pain after surgery is a nerve that is injured or stuck in scar tissue. You may not only experience pain from scar tissue, but may also have swelling, itching, and increased sensitivity. 

    Some common causes for surgical scar pain are:

    • Tightness. Tightness in the surgical site can make moving difficult and painful. 
    • Nerve damage. Damage to the nerve can cause pain or numbness in the surgical site area. 
    • Adhesions. Adhesions are caused by fibrosis and can cause inflammation and pain. They can also cause a loss of joint or tissue function.

    Treatment Options

    In order to reduce surgical scar formation and pain, you can do the following at home:

    • Moisturize to keep the scar tissue hydrated. 
    • Break up the scar tissue by doing a self-massage using circular motions along the scar.
    • Move around to prevent the area from becoming tight.
    • Use sunscreen to prevent sunburns and discoloration.

    Keep in mind that after surgery, it is normal to experience pain as you heal. If this post-surgical pain becomes chronic and lasts after several months to a year, it is time to consult Dr. Williams for an evaluation. 

    Dr. Williams will determine the cause of your pain and recommend options to provide relief. Depending on the cause of your pain, the following options may be considered:

    • Nerve reconstruction
    • Nerve decompression
    • Nerve resection
    • Revision to the existing procedure

    If a nerve is not causing the issue, surgery may not be an option to reduce the pain. In those cases, physical therapy, massage, laser treatments, and other conservative methods may be recommended to help provide relief.

    Contact a Nerve Pain Specialist

    If your surgical scar still hurts and you need to find relief from the pain, contact Dr. Williams for a consultation. To schedule an appointment in our Baltimore office, call us at (410)709-3868 or fill out our contact form online.


  • Is it normal to experience chronic pain after hernia surgery?

    Treating chronic pain after hernia surgery Experiencing pain after hernia surgery is part of the normal healing process. If you had inguinal hernia surgery in the groin area and your pain after surgery is lasting longer than six months, however, it is considered to be chronic pain. 

    Chronic pain is not normal and should never be ignored. It can indicate that there is a nerve injury, nerve damage, or inflammation happening in the surgical area. Chronic pain should be evaluated by a pain specialist to determine the cause and best options for relief.

    Types of Post-Surgical Pain

    Most hernia surgeries are minimally invasive procedures that involve pushing the hernia back inside the body and placing a mesh patch and stitches on the abdominal wall to strengthen and support the area using a laparoscopy technique. Some hernia surgeries are done as open surgeries and use the same mesh technique. 

    After surgery, it is normal to feel pain for several weeks. Pain is part of the healing process and can be relieved by medication. 

    For pain that does not go away, there can be other reasons. Post-surgical pain can result from:

    • Inflammation from the placement of the mesh
    • Sensory nerve entrapment in the scar tissue
    • Nerve damage or injury

    Chronic pain after hernia surgery can be felt as a burning or stabbing pain in the groin area and cause complications with sleep. Some other symptoms of chronic pain after hernia surgery are:

    • Pain when walking
    • Pain when sitting
    • Pain in the groin area or testicles
    • Pain that radiates
    • Feeling that something foreign is in the body
    • Pain with physical intimacy
    • Pain with wearing clothing such as underwear or a belt
    • Psychological distress

    Chronic Pain Treatment Options

    Treatment for chronic pain after hernia surgery depends on the cause and level of pain you are experiencing. If you are experiencing persistent pain for six months or more, nerve damage is likely to be the reason. 

    The most common cause of chronic pain after hernia surgery is damage or injury to a nerve. During hernia surgery, a nerve may have been injured, compressed, or stuck in scar tissue after the mesh insert was placed. To determine if the pain is the result of nerve damage or injury, a nerve block may be used. A nerve block uses a local anesthetic to reduce the pain. If the nerve block temporarily reduces the pain, it indicates that nerves are the cause of the problem.

    Dr. Williams can do the following to help with a nerve-related pain issue:

    • Nerve reconstruction
    • Nerve decompression
    • Nerve resection
    • Additional surgery to correct the previous hernia repair procedure

    Contact a Post-Surgical Pain Specialist

    If you are suffering from chronic pain after hernia surgery or have questions about what options are available to relieve chronic pain after surgery, contact post-surgical pain specialist Dr. Eric H. Williams. To schedule a consultation in our Baltimore office, contact us online or call us at 410-709-3868.