Peripheral Nerve Disorders

Peripheral nerve injury and disease refer to a group of conditions that affect the peripheral nervous system, which includes all the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.

These conditions, such as entrapment and compression neuropathies, can disrupt the normal functioning of nerves, leading to a wide range of symptoms and impairments.

Overview of Conditions

Overview of common peripheral nerve diseases, along with their causes, symptoms, and treatment options:

  • Cause: Often related to diabetes, alcohol abuse, autoimmune disorders, infections, or exposure to toxins.
  • Symptoms: Numbness, tingling, burning pain, muscle weakness, and loss of coordination in the affected limbs.
  • Treatment: Managing the underlying cause, medications for pain and symptom relief, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
  • Cause: Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically due to conditions like herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or injury.
  • Symptoms: Pain that radiates from the lower back down one or both legs, often accompanied by numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and difficulty walking.
  • Treatment: Rest, pain medications, physical therapy, and in severe cases, surgery to relieve nerve compression.
  • Cause: Severe trauma, such as a fall or accident, can cause the coccyx to dislocate from its normal position.
  • Symptoms: Intense pain and instability in the tailbone area, often accompanied by visible displacement.
  • Treatment: Emergency medical evaluation is necessary to assess the extent of the injury. Treatment may include manual reduction or surgery to reposition the coccyx.
  • Cause: Typically caused by compression or irritation of spinal nerve roots, often due to conditions like herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
  • Symptoms: Pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness that radiate along the nerve pathway. Symptoms are usually experienced in the arms or legs, depending on the affected nerve roots.
  • Treatment: Rest, physical therapy, pain medications, epidural injections, and in some cases, surgery to relieve nerve compression.
  • Cause: Trauma or injury to peripheral nerves, such as those resulting from accidents or surgical procedures.
  • Symptoms: Numbness, weakness, loss of function, and pain in the affected area.
  • Treatment: Treatment depends on the extent and location of the injury, ranging from conservative management to surgical repair.
  • Cause: Compression of the median nerve as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist.
  • Symptoms: Numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand, particularly the thumb, index, and middle fingers.
  • Treatment: Splinting, corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, and in severe cases, surgical release of the carpal tunnel.
  • Cause: Compression of the ulnar nerve as it passes through Guyon’s canal in the wrist.
  • Symptoms: Numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers, particularly the pinky and ring fingers.
  • Treatment: Rest, wrist splints, anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases, surgery to relieve nerve compression.
  • Cause: Damage or injury to the brachial plexus, a network of nerves that control the arm and hand.
  • Symptoms: Weakness, numbness, and pain in the shoulder, arm, and hand.
  • Treatment: Physical therapy, pain management, and, in some cases, surgical intervention to repair or reconstruct damaged nerves.
  • Cause: Develop from the cells that surround nerves.
  • Symptoms: Pain, numbness, weakness, and changes in sensation in the affected area.
  • Treatment: Treatment depends on the type, location, and size of the tumour. Options include surgical removal, radiation therapy, and sometimes monitoring without immediate intervention.
  • Cause: Abnormal growth or overgrowth of nerve tissue, often due to trauma or surgery.
  • Symptoms: Pain, tingling, and a lump or mass at the site of the neuroma.
  • Treatment: Medications for pain management, physical therapy, and surgical removal of the neuroma if conservative measures fail.

Dr Richard Parkinson offers various conservative medical treatments, along with a range of minimally-invasive surgical therapies when managing coccyx disease or injury.

Peripheral nerve injury or disease can be a significant source of morbidity, often leading to pain, functional limitations and reduced quality of life. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan if you suspect you have a peripheral nerve condition as some conditions can cause permanent nerve injury if left untreated, which can result in paralysis of the limb affected. Treatment options vary depending on the specific condition, its severity, and the patient’s overall health.

Overview of common surgical procedures and anatomical approaches Dr Parkinson often employs:

  • Decompression Surgery for Nerve Entrapment Syndromes
  • Median Nerve / Carpal Tunnel Release
  • Ulnar Nerve / Cubital Tunnel Release
  • Radial Tunnel Release
  • Nerve Grafting
  • Nerve Transfer
  • Neuroma Excision
  • Tendon Transfer
  • Peripheral Nerve Biopsy
  • Fascicular Nerve Repair
  • Percutaneous Nerve Ablation
  • Neurolysis

A/Prof Richard Parkinson


Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon with 25+ Years Experience

A/Prof Richard Parkinson performs surgery at Sydney’s leading private hospitals.

He consults and operates from Sydney’s most advanced neurosurgical and spinal surgery hospitals, including St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Prince of Wales Private Hospital and The Mater Hospital.

These hospitals offer the latest neurosurgical facilities, including cutting-edge imaging equipment and surgical navigation systems, dedicated and well-trained theatre clinical staff, as well as post-surgical rehabilitation specialists.

A/Prof Parkinson’s areas of expertise include surgery of the entire spinal column, scoliosis surgery, peripheral nerve surgery, as well as physical rehabilitation of athletes that have suffered a brain or spine injury.

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