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Neurology & Neurosurgery

Peripheral Nerve Injuries

Treatment for peripheral nerve injuries and disorders is provided through the Center for Nerve Injury and Paralysis. We offer the most advanced techniques, including grafting and nerve transfer procedures for severe nerve injuries. Pain therapy is provided for conditions ranging from trigeminal neuralgia to headaches. Treatment also is offered for common and more complex nerve-compression injuries.

Understanding Peripheral Nerve Injuries

Peripheral nerves are the nerves that carry simple commands from the brain to the legs, arms, hands and feet. They enable people to perform such basic activities as bending the elbow, buttoning a shirt and stepping forward.

Conditions include:

  • Nerve compression syndromes
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
    • Cubital tunnel syndrome
    • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
    • Peroneal nerve entrapment
    • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Nerve injuries
    • Brachial plexus injuries
    • Lumbosacral plexus injuries
    • Any individual nerve injury resulting in numbness or paralysis
  • Pain

Treatment for Peripheral Nerve Injuries

Injuries to the shoulder, arms and legs are common—numbering in the hundreds of thousands each year. Yet specialists who treat these regions of the body often are focused on other types of injuries and have limited expertise with the peripheral nervous system.

At the Center for Nerve Injury and Paralysis, neurosurgeons work together with plastic and reconstructive surgeons, neurologists and therapists to offer comprehensive treatment of peripheral nerve injuries and disorders. Treatment is available for both adult and pediatric conditions.

Innovative Surgical Options for Spinal Cord Injuries


The Center for Nerve Injury and Paralysis is led by Susan Mackinnon, MD, a pioneer in nerve surgery who is responsible for developing a variety of techniques to reroute healthy nerves to areas of the body left paralyzed by damaged nerves. Advancements like this have allowed Dr. Mackinnon and other Washington University surgeons at Barnes-Jewish Hospital to restore some hand function in patients with a spinal cord injury at the C6 and C7 vertebra, the lowest bones in the neck.

Instead of operating on the spine itself, surgeons are able to reroute working nerves in the upper arms to restore some function. Most recently, a quadriplegic patient with a spinal cord injury at the C7 vertebra underwent nerve transfer surgery at Barnes-Jewish and regained some hand function after undergoing intensive physical therapy. The case study, published online May 15 in the Journal of Neurosurgery, is, to the authors’ knowledge, the first reported case of restoring the ability to flex the thumb and index finger after a spinal cord injury. Read more at nerve.wustl.edu or news.wustl.edu.


For a referral to a Washington University neurologist or neurosurgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call .

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