A nerve lesion is an injury which affects one of the nerves in the body. These lesions can be caused by a wide variety of situations and medical conditions, and they can cause an assortment of symptoms. Treatment for the lesions depends on locating the lesion and determining its cause, and it may not always be possible for a doctor to deliver a good prognosis for a patient with nerve lesions.
In a complete nerve lesion, the nerve is so damaged that signals cannot pass across it. This damage may be permanent in nature. Partial lesions involve partial damage to the nerve which causes an interruption in the nerve's function. Partial lesions are more likely to have a positive outcome, because it is possible for the body to adapt to the physical change.
Some causes include: degenerative diseases of the nervous system, tumors, burns, cuts, and abrasive injuries such as those caused by bones which grate against nerves. In all cases, part of the nerve is damaged, and the myelin, the thick sheath which covers the nerve, may be partially removed. Demyelinated nerves are usually more difficult to treat, especially when the layer is stripped away by a disease, as is the case with multiple sclerosis.
Lesions can cause an assortment of symptoms, depending on where the lesion is located. Patients may experience loss of muscle control, numb or tingling sensations, sharp pains, or twitching. Because the nerves of the body are well known and they have been carefully mapped, a doctor can usually determine where the damage is by narrowing down the site of the symptoms.
Neurologists usually treat patients with suspected nerve lesions. They conduct a neurological exam to narrow down the symptoms and determine where the signals from the nerves are being scrambled, and they can recommend a course of treatment for the patient after determining the cause of the lesion and discussing the patient's history.
In some instances, it may be possible to repair a nerve lesion with surgery. Other lesions may resolve themselves, or the body may adapt and allow other nerves to take over to replace the function of the damaged nerves. In other cases, it may be necessary to treat a patient with medications, physical therapy, and other measures to address the lesion. Permanent lesions cannot be repaired, but patients can be taught to manage with the decreased function, and in the case of patients with degenerative diseases, they can learn coping skills which will help them adjust as the damage spreads.