Causes of Nerve Damage

The Role of Peripheral Nerves

The peripheral nervous system (PNS) is one of the 2 main parts of the body’s nervous system and has 2 main subsystems – the somatic, responsible for voluntary actions, and the autonomic, responsible for involuntary actions. These 2 subsystems have 3 main functions – senses, movement, and unconscious processes.

Sensory functions include pressure, touch, temperature, pain, and location, while movement includes stability, mobility, and fine motor control. Thirdly, peripheral nerves deliver signals to the brain to control vital, unconscious processes such as breathing, heartbeat, and glandular stimulation.

Causes of Peripheral Nerve Damage

What causes nerve damage? From trauma to disease to toxins, or even nutritional deficiencies, almost anything can damage nerves. Peripheral nerves are fragile and easily injured, but damaged nerves are most often due to trauma or medical interventions.

Peripheral nerve injuries (PNI) caused by trauma can be the result of cutting, compressing, or stretching the nerves, or from prior surgeries. Such injuries can impact the brain’s communication with muscles and organs, meaning damaged nerve symptoms include loss of sensation, loss of motor function, or both.

Causes of
Nerve Damage

Trauma or Medical Conditions

Compression of the nerve

Bone fractures or crush injuries

Severing of Axon or nerve sheath

Nerve Damage Causes a Reduced Quality of Life

Peripheral nerve damage can result in a reduced quality of life with the patient suffering a myriad of morbidities. Sensory nerve damage alone causes a variety of symptoms due to the broad range of functions sensory nerves perform. This makes repairing nerve damage essential in restoring a patient’s quality of life.

The potential morbidities of damaged nerves include:

  • Impaired sensation
  • Reduced motor function
  • Pain and cold intolerance
  • Psychosocial morbidity
  • Sensory defect
  • Chronic pain

Current Treatments for Peripheral Nerve Injuries

The treatments to repair nerve damage available on the market today include autologous grafting (autografts), allogeneic grafting (allografts), nerve conduits, and acellular allograft biologics. Each of these nerve damage repair methods has its shortcomings, all of which are addressed in Current Approaches.