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.