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Nerve Damage After Surgery


Are you suffering from nerve damage caused by recent surgery? Find out from noted Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer Heidi G. Villari what nerve damage after surgery is, how it happens, the common symptoms of nerve damage following surgery, and why someone should talk with a medical malpractice lawyer to see what legal actions they can take.

If you believe you suffered nerve damage during surgery, call the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at The Villari Firm to discuss your options. You may be entitled to compensation if the nerve damage was avoidable.

How Surgery May Cause Nerve Damage

There are three ways surgery can cause nerve damage. First, the site of the surgery where an incision was made will have scar tissue, which may constrict nerves and impede the transport of chemicals nerves need. Second, the fatty sheath called myelin may get damaged during surgery, impeding nerve function. This is called neuropraxia. Third, the nerve itself may get torn or cut entirely. Nerve damage is called axonotmesis, and when the nerve is cut that is called neurontomesis.

How Common Nerve Damage Following Surgery Is

Temporary nerve damage is common, especially after spine surgery. Permanent nerve damage happens but is less common, more often in spine fusion surgery and hip or shoulder replacement surgery.

Common Symptoms of Nerve Damage Following Surgery

Patients with nerve damage following surgery report any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Loss of sensation

If these symptoms last for more than a few weeks or months after surgery, that may indicate permanent nerve damage. That said, nerves continue to grow and heal as long as they are not constricted by scar tissue or other impediment, such as swelling. If scar tissue is present, your doctor may prescribe Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Hydrodissection with Othrobiologics, where a small needle injects fluid at the site to break up scar tissue.

How Long Surgical Nerve Damage May Last

Most patients report symptoms subsiding a few weeks or a couple of months following surgery. If symptoms persist longer than that, the damage may be permanent.

Your doctor can order certain tests to ascertain your condition if you show any symptoms following surgery. These tests include:

  • Nerve Conduction Study (EMG)
  • Ultrasound (shows swelling or constriction in the area)
  • MRI
  • MR Neurography (an MRI specifically tuned to show nerves)

If you are experiencing pain from nerve damage after surgery, your doctor may prescribe:

  • Physical therapy
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) infusion
  • Medications such as Neurotin, Lyrica, Elavil, Topamax, or Ultram

Normal vs Abnormal Nerve Damage After Surgery

It is common for a surgical incision to cause nerve damage at the site. This is called “normal” nerve damage which normally resolves in a few weeks or a few months, as the nerve heals.

If the surgeon was not sufficiently careful, they may cause more nerve damage than warranted by the type of surgery and incision or incisions made. This can happen if the surgeon is rushed, makes a mistake or slips with the scalpel, is suddenly distracted, or is not paying enough attention to the procedure.

Long-Term Effects of Surgical Nerve Damage

Unfortunately, not all surgically-caused nerve damage heals. Patients may be left with loss of function and chronic pain at worst.

Is Nerve Damage Resulting from Surgery Medical Malpractice?

Excessive nerve damage following surgery can be medical malpractice. Your attorney and their team of medical experts will investigate the circumstances of your surgical procedure and find out whether your surgeon acted with the skill and care a surgeon in their position must.

Can I Sue for Nerve Damage After Surgery?

Yes, if the nerve damage was a result of medical malpractice and not the type of “normal” nerve damage that occurs at the site of an incision.

Compensation for Nerve Damage Following Surgery

In Pennsylvania, you can recover both economic and non-economic damages for nerve damage resulting from medical malpractice during surgery. The types of damages and amounts vary according to the severity of your condition, but you may be entitled to:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earning capacity
  • Medical bills
  • Costs of medication
  • Costs of diagnostic tests
  • Costs of corrective surgery or other procedures
  • Costs of rehabilitation
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

Talk with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you suffered nerve damage during surgery, first, seek medical attention and ask for a prescription for diagnostic tools to determine the nature and extent of your nerve damage. Comply with your medical providers’ instructions regarding medication and physical therapy.

If your symptoms do not subside in a few weeks, call us. We work with our team of medical experts to determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injury due to medical malpractice. Call today to discuss your case.

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