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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  • 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.

  • When should I be concerned about chronic pain after a knee replacement?

    Pain after knee replacementKnee replacement surgery can be life-changing. It often allows a person to reclaim an active lifestyle they may have thought was lost forever due to the poor functioning of their knees.

    But not every knee replacement is entirely successful. In some cases, patients report experiencing ongoing problematic pain that hinders them as much—or more—than the problem the surgery was supposed to fix. While it is only natural that there will be some pain during the recovery and rehabilitation periods after surgery, chronic pain means there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. 

    Causes of Post-Surgery Pain

    There are a range of reasons you might experience chronic pain after a knee replacement procedure. For example, something could go wrong with the artificial knee itself and lead to significant pain. Or an infection could be the issue. Or you might experience what is called “overstuffing”—a condition in which your knee joint is larger following the surgery and feels as though it is filled up more than it should be.

    Another possibility is nerve damage. It is possible that during the procedure, the surgeon inadvertently damaged nerves around the joint. It might also be the case that nerves have become entrapped in scar tissue or compressed. When any of these things happen, you may well experience ongoing pain that turns out to be difficult to diagnose.

    In these circumstances, a peripheral nerve surgeon—like Dr. Eric H. Williams—is your best option for finding the relief you need. 

    Don’t Ignore Ongoing Pain After a Knee Replacement

    If it has been six months since your surgery and you are still in pain, something is definitely amiss. Don’t ignore the pain or try to grit your teeth and just keep going. Instead, talk to a doctor right away. If the problem is nerve damage, entrapment, or compression, peripheral nerve surgery can be the solution.

    We Can Help You Get Relief From Post-Surgery Chronic Pain

    Dr. Williams has the experience and expertise necessary to diagnose and correct problems related to damaged nerves following knee replacement surgery. If you have been in pain for months following surgery, it is time to get some relief. Contact us today so that we can help sooner rather than later.


     

  • What conditions could meralgia paresthetica be mistaken for?

    Diagnosing meralgia paresthetica can be difficult.While the numbness, tingling, or burning of meralgia paresthetica is not the kind of thing you can miss (especially if these feelings in your thigh keep you tossing and turning at night), the actual diagnosis of the problem is frequently missed.

    Copycat Conditions

    A number of conditions resemble meralgia paresthetica closely enough that misdiagnosis is possible. These conditions include:

    • Lumbar radiculopathy. Pain caused by compression or inflammation of a nerve in the spine
    • Trochanteric bursitis. Inflammation of the fluid-filled sac near the hip joint
    • Primary hip disease. Also known as primary osteoarthritis 
    • L2-L3 nerve root lesion or other neuropathies. Can lead to difficulty climbing stairs
    • Chronic appendicitis. Symptoms may come and go but can be quite serious
    • Uterine fibroids. Noncancerous growths of the uterus

    With so many conditions with similar symptoms, it is only natural that misdiagnoses can occur. But while it may be to be expected, that is not much comfort when you are the person who is experiencing the symptoms. Fortunately, there are some diagnostic tools that can help.

    Identifying the Problem Correctly

    Your doctor may order radiographs of your hip in order to determine whether your issue is meralgia paresthetica or another condition. It is also possible that your doctor may use electromyography (EMG) to help make the diagnosis. EMG records electrical activity when a nerve stimulates a muscle and can be used to identify and diagnosis neuromuscular abnormalities. The test requires inserting one or more small needles into a muscle and EMG can distinguish meralgia paresthetica from radiculopathy or pain emanating from the hip.

    Once the issue has been properly diagnosed, corrective measures can be taken. If the issue is indeed meralgia paresthetica, nerve release surgery may be the most effective solution if more conservative treatment options have not provided relief.

    Dr. Eric H. Williams Can Identify and Treat Meralgia Paresthetica

    As we have suggested, a correct diagnosis is the first step toward finding relief from meralgia paresthetica. Dr. Williams can provide that diagnosis—and once the problem is properly identified, he can suggest the best path forward. If you have discomfort toward the top of your leg, don’t wait to start the journey toward relief. Contact us today to schedule an appointment


     

  • What is traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome?

    Trauma can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.When we think about carpal tunnel syndrome, we generally think of a repetitive stress injury. We might, for example, associate the numbness, tingling, and pain of carpal tunnel syndrome with jobs that involve a significant amount of typing or other repetitive motions.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome can also be caused by a traumatic injury such as a car accident. Any injury that entraps or impinges on the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist can lead to the development of symptoms.

    How an Accident Can Lead to Traumatic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    In an event like a car accident, the ligaments and tendons surrounding the median nerve may be damaged. As they heal, scar tissue may form. This scar tissue can impinge on the median nerve leading to the classic symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Because the problem arises as ligaments and tendons heal rather than in the accident itself, the onset of traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome is often delayed—sometimes for quite some time.

    Once traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome is diagnosed, however, the treatment plan resembles that of any case of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

    Treating Traumatic Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    In most cases, your doctor will suggest a series of common, conservative treatment options to try to get you relief from your carpal tunnel symptoms. However, these are not always effective—especially since the cause of the problem is trauma rather than repetitive motion or genetic predisposition

    It may well be the case that the best solution for addressing the symptoms of traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome is the minimally invasive surgical technique known as ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release. This surgery releases the median nerve, alleviating the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

    Dr. Williams Can Treat Trauma-Induced Injuries 

    Dr. Eric H. Williams has the experience and expertise required to help you get the relief you need from traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome. Schedule an appointment today so that we can get you on the road to recovery sooner rather than later.


     

  • Can meralgia paresthetica make it hard to sleep at night?

    Get help for meralgia paresthetica.As names of medical conditions go, meralgia paresthetica is a mouthful. And the condition itself is no picnic. 

    Meralgia paresthetica is caused by the compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. That’s the nerve responsible for providing sensation to the front and side portions of your thigh. When that nerve is compressed, the sensations you feel are not the normal ones you might expect. Instead, you may experience burning, aching, numbness, or even stabbing pains in and around your thigh

    Having any of those feelings in your thigh is likely to make it quite difficult to drift off to sleep, so it is important to find a way to address the problem.

    A Few Self-Care Options to Try

    There are some self-care things you can try to lessen the burning sensation that often makes it difficult to sleep. For example, you might try kinesiology tape as a way to take pressure off of the compressed nerve. Or you could head to your kitchen, grab a rolling pin, and roll it over the affected area in an effort to at least temporarily restore regular nerve function.

    You can also choose a sleeping position that is likely to ease the problem. The best option is to sleep on the side opposite the discomfort with a pillow between your legs. (If the burning is in your left thigh, sleep on your right side.) This can help ease the compression of the nerve enough to allow you to get to sleep.

    Sometimes Surgery Is the Way to Go

    These self-care options can sometimes provide relief and allow you to get the sleep you need. However, if conservative treatments are ineffective, surgically releasing the nerve so that it is no longer compressed might be the best option. Freeing the trapped nerve can offer lasting relief from meralgia paresthetica.

    Dr. Williams Can Help Your Meralgia Paresthetica

    If you are losing sleep due to meralgia paresthetica, it is time to see a doctor. Dr. Eric H. Williams is an experienced and compassionate surgeon committed to helping patients move past persistent pain related to nerve issues. If you are experiencing ongoing discomfort in the area of your thigh, contact us today for an appointment.