Symptoms of nerve damage after surgery

Updated March 23, 2017

Sometimes, during the course of surgery it is possible that nerves may become damaged. This damage can occur due to a nick from an errant scalpel, a bruise that occurs on the nerve, or because of inflammation of the tissue around the nerve. In many cases the nerve damage will go away over time, as the injured portion of the nerve heals or the inflammation goes away. In other cases, nerve damage from a surgery can be repaired surgically. However, sometimes the symptoms are permanent.

Loss of ennervation

One symptom of post-surgical nerve damage is tingling or numbness in one area of the body. The tingling may resemble a "pins and needles" sensation.

Nerve pain

Nerve damage after surgery can also result in neuropathic pain, which is generally a severe burning pain.

Location of symptoms

These symptoms may occur far from the actual surgical site as the damaged nerve may supply distant parts of the body.

Exacerbation of symptoms

These symptoms may become worse due to sudden movements or unusual body positioning, such as those that occur during sleep.

Symptoms and pain medication

Pain that comes from post-surgical nerve damage will often not be alleviated by pain medication, even narcotics.

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About the Author

Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.