Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ

Question:

Have you ever heard of someone with nerve entrapment just suddenly getting better without treatment? I think that happened to me when I was sure I would end up with surgery. It looked like I had some kind of pressure on the median nerve in my forearm. I was getting ready to have the surgeon find what was pressing on the nerve and remove it. Then one day, I woke up and poof! It was gone. How cool is that? But what could have happened to cause that?

Answer:

Spontaneous recovery of nerve entrapment causing pain, numbness, and loss of function can occur. In fact, such recovery has been reported in the literature. Usually these cases take a long time -- sometimes as much as a year. It's possible that the cause of your symptoms was really a virus affecting the nerve. In that case, you would have had a case of neuritis (nerve inflammation), not a compression neuropathy. As you think back over the past weeks to months, do you recall ever having a fever, unusual fatigue, or muscle pain along with the symptoms of nerve compression? These are all symptoms of an inflammatory process. Nerve damage or irritation from repetitive overuse can also be affected by rest, change in activity level, and modification of activities. In time, the irritated nerve (without the irritating factors) gets enough rest to recover. The recovery may seem spontaneous, but it has really taken weeks to months to get there. There's much we still don't know about nerves -- what affects them, what heals them, and/or how to treat them. You are among the fortunate to experience a healing recovery. If your symptoms return, don't hesitate to check back in with your physician. It may yet be possible to diagnose the problem accurately and treat it specifically. Alan C. Dang, MD, and Craig M. Rodner, MD. Unusual Compression Neuropathies of the Forearm, Part II: Median Nerve. In Journal of Hand Surgery. December 2009. Vol. 34A. No. 10. Pp. 1915-1920.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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