Traumatic Nerve Injury: Benjamin's Story

Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center's orthopedic doctors and surgeons provide expert treatments to a patient with traumatic nerve injury. Follow along Benjamin's journey to find the road to recovery.

Transcript:

I was getting ready for work and went to shut the back door a couple of times and it didn't shut. The third time I went a little forceful and my hand went through the window instead of catching the wood. It started spraying blood out all over the kitchen and we got in the car and went to Frankfort hospital. He had emergency surgery to control the bleeding to save his life. The surgeons that were saving his life weren't necessarily equipped to evaluate or manage that nerve injury, and so he came to me with a nerve injury that had not yet been treated. The pain in my arm felt like somebody was putting my hand in a vice cranking on it. I couldn't sleep a couple of hours a night if I was lucky. I was ready to cut my arm off, actually. I was in so much pain. These can be the most debilitating conditions out there. There is just unrelenting pain that will not go away. I was trying to get help and nobody really believed me they just kept telling me I need to get back to work and move it and stuff. I kept telling them something ain't right because I'm not the type of guy that I got a high tolerance of pain you know, but they didn't understand the pain that I was going through every day all day long.

Benjamin's likely injured nerve was a nerve that gave feeling to the back part of his hand. Nerve injuries such as Benjamin's could be missed sometimes very easily with trauma. Really the the main goal is to save your life and then your limb and it is actually quite frequent to have smaller nerve injuries that go unrecognized for long periods of time. I see a lot of patients that have seen a number of physicians and they're seeking their third or fourth opinion or have been told that there wasn't anything that was wrong and sent to chronic pain management to manage their continued pain. There is a growing respect for how debilitating nerve injuries can be and understanding of what types of nerve injuries can cause continued pain afterwards.

He looked over my arm looked at my charts he said that he didn't know how much he could, but he could take some of the pain away.

In benjamin's case, we went up and down the forearm to find all of the nerve that was damaged we were able to find three or four different areas where neuromas had formed, which are balled up areas of the nerve sending inappropriate signals.  Removing the neuroma gets rid of the part of the nerve that is causing the pain which led to a gap of about four centimeters we used a product called advanced nerve graft to bridge that gap. For benjamin if he were not to have had access to someone who could have recognized the nerve injury and treated it he would probably have unfortunately been in pain for the rest of his life.

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After the surgery my pain went from like an eight or a nine back to like a four or five. Neuroma pain as soon as you treat that neuroma they get immediate improvement which I think is incredibly rewarding the following months. You could follow the nerve recovering over time his function improving in his ability to get back into work.

At first, I could only work about three or four hours at a time two or three times a week now I'm up to about five or six hours a day slowly building my business back up. When I was able to get back to work I felt really good can provide for my family again. That means a lot to me. I'm a survivor one way or another and it made me feel good to start surviving again.

 

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