Neuropathy is a common issue since around 25 to 30 percent of Americans will experience it in their lifetime. It affects all ages, but it’s more common among older people and those with certain conditions.
When you have peripheral nerve damage, you may experience slightly annoying sensations. At its worst, you can get severe disability. It may even lead to a permanent issue.
How can you avoid permanent damage? Can your body regenerate nerves on its own? Keep reading to find out.
Does Your Body Regenerate Nerves?
When your nerves get cut or damaged, they will try to repair themselves. But, first, they “rest” for about a month. The nerve fibers or axons shrink back before they begin to grow again.
Your body can regenerate nerves by about one mm per day. However, they can only regrow up to 1/3 inch on their own.
You may recover if the axons find and connect with the other end. A surgical procedure can intervene and help nerves.
If the damaged section is longer than that, the nerves can’t find their target. Often, this results in a painful condition called a neuroma. The axons still attempt to look for the other end, leading to a lump of nerve ends.
Can You Recover The Functions Of The Nerves?
When the nerves regenerate, do you recover their functions? It depends on the affected area and the type of injury.
Motor nerves can be tricky. If the injury requires a transplant from other body parts, you can recover only 40 to 60% of the original motor functions.
They also have a time limit. You must undergo surgical repair within 12 to 18 months after the injury. After which, you may have no chance to recover the motor functions of that area.
Sensory nerves, on the other hand, are more resilient. You may recover sensation months or years after the injury.
How Stem Cell Treatment May Help
Stem cell treatment is showing great promise for nerve damage. It can offer better benefits than traditional methods, like surgery.
Studies have found using stem cells can improve peripheral nerve regeneration. In some cases, it can also restore the complete functions of the affected area.
Doctors harvest mesenchymal stem cells and Schwann cells from the patient’s body. They prepare these cells for injection at the site of damage.
The stem cells can transform into any tissue, including new neurons and other cells.
However, it’s worth noting the effectiveness of stem cell treatment for every kind of nerve damage is still unproven. There are many kinds of damage, and effects vary based on the patient’s health situation.
Ask Your Doctor About Your Options Now
While it’s possible to regenerate nerves after traumatic injuries, the effects can differ depending on the specific situation. You have a couple of options, but the field of nerve regeneration is still somewhat new.
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