We don’t normally think of surgery as a bodily trauma or injury, but it is. Any time the tissues of your body are disrupted, whether intentionally or accidentally, the body processes the mechanism as an assault on the tissue. As such, the body will go through the same cascade of healing. It’s not uncommon for neuropathy to develop as a side effect of surgery.
During the course of surgery, nerves might be damaged, either directly (i.e., the nerve is severed or nicked) or indirectly (i.e., the nerve is bruised or the tissue surrounding the nerve is inflamed, leading to nerve compression). For example, the way in which a patient is positioned during a surgical procedure can indirectly cause neuropathy. Maintaining a patient in a prolonged position can hamper circulation and deprive the nerve of oxygen and necessary nutrients. These prolonged periods of positioning can also create an abnormal stretch or compression on the nerve. Any of these situations can lead to nerve damage.
Symptoms of surgical nerve injury can include numbness and tingling or a burning pain, which can be moderate to severe. The symptoms might occur at the surgical site or in the standard areas where one typically observes peripheral neuropathy (i.e., feet, legs, hands, and arms). Sometimes, a person will notice that the symptoms worsen with specific motions or movements, or while he or she is sleeping at night.