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20 Sep 2006

Nerve damage and muscle atrophy
I underwent cervical spinal surgery in April 2006. After returning home I observed that I had suffered muscle atrophy in my pectoral muscles and right triceps muscle. The rehab therapists advised me that I had likely suffered some nerve damage. After 5 months following the surgery, I still suffer from extreme weakness in my chest and right arm. Is this a problem that will be resolved in time, and if so, approximately how long before I can regain the muscle strength in those areas.
Answer 473 views
Rehabilitation after injury

01 Jan 0001

Hi Jim,

Nerve regeneration is dependent on the damage to the myelin sheath and indeed the Grade of nerve damage. Grade 1 suggests a conduction block in the presence of intact axons and connective tissue sheaths. Here, the chance of recovery is excellent. Grade 2 suggests axon injury / degeneration without tissue sheath disruption. Recovery takes place over an extended period, depending on the length of nerve but the prognosis is still good. Grade 3 (complete nerve disruption) is extremely rare and prognosis is poor.

In other words if the sheath is damaged, nerve regeneration is inhibited and strength gains in these areas is unlikely. If there is no damage to the myelin sheath, nerve regeneration will almost always take place, however this process will take a very long time.

Injuries to the short nerves around the shoulder do heal quicker than most other nerves and it is suggested that you continue with the mobilisations by your rehabilitation therapist to assist the axon flow and subsequent nerve regeneration, should nerve damage be the reason for your atrophy. I suggest you then move onto a strength rehabilitation programme prescribed by a biokineticist.

Nerve regeneration may take up to a year however this can only be suggested following a second opinion by a neurologist / neurosurgeon. A nerve conduction test can be carried out to assess possible nerve damage and provide an accurate diagnosis for your atrophy.

Best wishes for your recovery.
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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