Ask the Expert: Dr. Steve Lee, Orthopedic Surgeon, Answers Questions on Nerve Injury & Compression in the Upper Extremity
Q1. I was in a car accident that damaged my brachial plexus and now I have chronic pain. Are there non-surgical treatments for the pain?
Chronic pain after brachial plexus injury is relatively common. There are non-surgical treatments available. A pain management specialist can help decide which medications and other treatments may be beneficial.
Q2. I have tingling and numbness in my arm and hand caused by a fall. How do I know if I have nerve damage in my wrist?
A detailed physical examination can help determine if there is nerve damage. To confirm nerve damage, electrodiagnostic studies (EMG and nerve conduction studies) may be performed to test the function of your nerves. The location and severity of nerve damage can be assessed, and a treatment plan proposed.
Q3. When I keep my elbow bent for a long time, especially at night, I wake up with numb fingers. Is that normal?
That is not normal and may be an indication that you have a compressed nerve. Consult a physician for a detailed physical examination and electrodiagnostic study to help confirm the location of the nerve compression. Non-operative and operative treatments are available for such a condition.
Q4. I am a college pitcher and have nerve damage in my shoulder. My doctor and I are discussing surgery. What is the likelihood that I will be able to go back to pitching?
This depends on several factors, including the condition of the shoulder joint and the severity of nerve injury. Recovery from such surgery can take a long time. You should have a discussion with your doctor about returning to pitching.
Dr. Steve Lee is an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. He specializes in treating conditions of the hand, wrist, forearm and elbow.