Nerves serve as the “wires” of the body, which carry information to and from the brain. Motor nerves carry signals from the brain to muscles to make the body move. Sensory nerves carry signals to the brain from different parts of the body to signal pain, pressure, and temperature. Most nerves in the body are made up of both sensory and motor fibres.
Nerves are delicate and can be damaged by pressure, stretching, or cutting. Injury to a nerve can stop the transmission of signals to and from the brain, preventing muscles from working and causing loss of feeling in the area supplied by that nerve.
To fix a cut nerve, the insulation around both ends of the nerve is sewn together. As most nerves are small, this will require very fine sutures inserted with the aid of an operating microscope. Once the two ends of the nerve are attached, the nerve fibres will start to re-grow, but this occurs at the rate of 1mm a day, so recovery will be slow.
If the cut nerve is not repaired, the growing nerve fibres may grow into a ball at the end of the nerve, forming a nerve scar called a ‘neuroma’. This can be painful and cause “electric shock” feelings when touched. The best way to prevent a neuroma forming is to surgically repair the cut nerve.