Recovery time after median nerve was manipulated during wrist surgery?
May 19, 2009 4:27 PM   Subscribe

How long after your median nerve was manipulated during wrist surgery were your fingers numb?

Last Saturday I severed a bunch of stuff (muscle, tendons, an artery) in my left wrist after breaking a big vase at what was otherwise a lovely wedding. Miraculously, I did not damage any major nerves, however, my tendon-reattachment surgery on Wednesday bruised the median nerve and now my thumb, index, and middle fingers are partially numb. The doctors tell me this was unavoidable and is common, but that it's impossible to know how long they will take to "wake up" - could be a week, could be months. I'm going to be religious about physical therapy, but I'd like to know: if you or yours have had operations that caused numbness in the hand due to median-nerve manipulation, how long before the numbness passed?
posted by nicwolff to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
The only person I know who underwent the same surgery (sheet-metal welding accident!) said it took about 3 weeks. Good news is he's now 100% back to normal. Best of luck.
posted by Hildago at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2009

I recently had surgery to release an ulnar nerve entrapment in my elbow. My doctor told me the nerve would regrow at a rate of about 1mm per day, maybe a little faster. I had 45 mm of nerve to regrow. It took just under a year.

I have no idea if a bruised nerve reacts the same way as an entrapped one, but maybe someone else can help. Otherwise bank on 1mm or so a day from the injured spot to the tip of your finger.
posted by sanka at 5:12 PM on May 19, 2009

I had surgery to put plates into my arm after a bad break, it took maybe six weeks for me to be able to "use" my hand normally and about a year for it to feel normal again.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:06 PM on May 19, 2009

For me, a different nerve was bruised during a different surgery, but it took about 6 months before it started to improve noticeably (by which point I thought it was permanent), and over a year to get back to normality.

I was told at the time that it could be weeks but would likely take months - or might even never come right.

Touch though the numbness was quite unpleasant for most of that year.
posted by anonymisc at 7:22 PM on May 19, 2009

A few years ago I badly broke my wrist & had my carpal tunnel opened up as part of the repair surgery, to relieve pressure on the median nerve. It took at least two years for the last of the numbness on my fingertips go away. It takes as long as it takes.
posted by scalefree at 9:42 PM on May 19, 2009

Ulnar nerve slightly rechanneled after bad elbow break, three years ago. Two fingers on my left hand still numb every morning when I wake up, slight loss of sensation in fingertips (sort of like they're in a thin sock) all the time; I assume this is permanent but it's in no way debilitating and I never think about it. I think it's slightly less numb now than last year, but I might just have gotten used to it.
posted by escabeche at 10:29 PM on May 19, 2009

I got wrist nerve damage from being in handcuffs while psychotic, and it took about a month before a 2" diameter numb spot shrank to nothing.
posted by flabdablet at 3:58 AM on May 20, 2009

I had some nerves poked and prodded while having some shiny new hardware installed to fix a thoroughly broken wrist, and as a result, my thumb and about half of my palm was numb for a good 8 months or so. The doctors told me it would be months, so I just sort of stopped paying attention. I know it was definitely ok by my first surgeryversary. Think of it as a fun surprise for you, one day you'll just wake up and have sensation back! It'll be like a block party only just your hand is invited!

Good luck with your recovery.
posted by sldownard at 5:59 AM on May 20, 2009

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