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Nerve Damage -- Ankle Surgery Complications

Clip Number: 23 of 32
Presentation: Ankle Fracture
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Your brain and spinal cord are responsible for the function, control, and coordination of body activities. Your body uses nerves as connections between the brain or spinal cord, and specific areas of your body. Some parts of these nerves carry messages to your muscles to help you move. Other parts carry messages back to the brain about what you feel in these areas.
Nerves from the spinal cord and brain are relatively large in size. As the nerves branch off from the main stem, they become smaller in size and their function more specialized. Nerves located under the skin that provide for feeling are quite small. Because of their size and location, these nerves are often cut during surgery. In fact, it is impossible to NOT cut any skin nerves during surgery. However, this usually doesn't cause any noticeable difference in sensation. If it does, the abnormal skin feeling is usually in a very small area.
Rarely, damage can occur to larger nerves in the ankle and foot, making a longer period of recovery necessary. Permanent nerve damage can also occur from the injury or during the surgery, which would result in prolonged numbness and loss of strength, especially in the foot. Surgery attempting to repair the nerve damage may have limited success.
Sometimes, nerve damage can result in a burning or itching sensation that produces a lot of discomfort. In addition, your skin may become extremely sensitive to the touch. It isn't clear why this happens. This condition can be treated with therapy and oral medication, but if this fails, sometimes injections in the area of the nerves can help.
If any nerve injuries do occur, you will need to discuss the treatment options on an individual basis with your doctor.

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