Nerve Compression Problems

Nerves are the electrical pathways of the body. They conduct electrical signals from our hands, arms, feet and legs to the brain allowing us sensation, to feel the world around us. They also conduct signals in the opposite direction, from our brains to our arms and legs, allowing us to command muscles to move. In this sense, they are somewhat akin to telephone cables, with many hundreds of individual “wires” (axons) in each nerve. However, unlike telephone cables, nerves are subject to disease, to pressure and to trauma. Some of the most common upper extremity conditions are caused by compression of the nerves in the neck, arm or hand, manifested by pain, weakness, loss of coordination, numbness or tingling.

The first goal in treatment of nerve disease or trauma is to make an accurate diagnosis. This should always begin with a thorough focused history of symptoms and signs from the patient, followed by a careful physical exam. Often, an Electromyogram/Nerve Conduction Study (EMG/NCS) will be ordered to elucidate the diagnosis in nerve problems.

We are fortunate to have one of the country’s experts in EMG/NCS, Dr. William Campbell, performing these studies at our facility.

Nerve diseases and compression are a significant and important area of interest at Virginia Hand Center. Dr. Leibovic has a special interest in nerve problems, which dates from his early research in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Dr. Leibovic operates on peripheral nerve compression problems in both the arms and the legs.

The most common nerve compression problems of the upper extremity are carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar neuropathy of the elbow.