What Is Nerve Regeneration?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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Nerve regeneration, also known as neurogeneration, is the ability of nerves to repair or re-grow after damage. Damage to nerves can occur from an injury, disease process or irritation issues such as impingement or trapping by inflammation creating an increased pressure on the nerve.

Nerves are thread-like trails which transports signals from the brain to the rest of the body. When a nerve is damaged it can obstruct the normal communication system of the body. This can hamper the ability of the body to move appropriately. Nerve damage may also create pain issues that radiate into different areas of the body depending on the pathway of the nerve. For example, a nerve problem in the low back can cause pain into the back of the leg and into the ankle.

Repair of injured nerves or nerve regeneration depends of the severity of the damage. The body calls upon inflammation after the injury. This protects the area from further harm and initiates the healing process. An important part of the healing process is the clearing away of debris such as blood buildup and excess fluid formation. For nerve regeneration to take place, the swelling and consequent increase of pressure on the nerve must be decreased.

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The success of nerve regeneration also depends on the site and extent of injury to the nerve. With mild peripheral nerve problems, or harm to the nerves that extend into the body from the brain and spinal cord, where the integrity of the nerve is still intact, nerve regeneration may begin immediately. If a nerve is completely severed or cut into two pieces, nerve regeneration may not occur. Repair of central nervous system nerves inside the brain and spinal cord do not have the ability to produce the necessary cell elements to initiate healing.

In severe cases of nerve damage, the body has a limited ability to generate more neurons or axons. A neuron is a nerve cell that processes and carries different signals between the brain and the body. An axon is the tail-like part of a neuron that allows the messages to be conveyed between different neurons. The rebuilding of the cells and its parts is an important component of nerve regeneration. If this is unable to take place the nerve will not be able to restore its prior functioning.

The process of nerve regeneration is lengthy. Full nerve re-growth may take several months or years to fully recover. During that time mobility and sensations may continue to be impaired or abnormal.

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