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I severed my ulnar nerve about 3 months ago, just above my left elbow. How is everyone progressing on their recovery?

I would also like to share my experiences with the injury so far, so here's the story:

I injured my left arm in November 2011. I cut up my elbow pretty badly and completely severed my triceps and ulnar nerve; luckily no severe damage was done to other ligaments or tendons. The cut was about 3-4 inches long and went down to the bone. I was immediately taken to a hospital and the muscle and skin were stitched together as well as possible. A few hours later the head physician of our hospital's surgical branch, who is a specialist in neuro-surgery reopened the wound and sewed the severed nerve ends back together, using about 4 cm of my nervus sularis to make the connection. As a result I have lost feeling in the left half of my foot, but no movement abilities, since the nervus sularis is only a tactile nerve. Luckily I have private insurance, which made it possible to receive such quick and high quality treatment, on a sunday no less.

The wound is located about 60 cm away from the tip of my pinky, so, at the rate of about 1 mm of growth each day, full regrowth of the nerve should take more than 600 days. The surgeon informed me that, should it take more than 2 years for the muscles to reconnect to the brain, the chances of regaining control over them are slim at best. He also said that, right now, there is nothing one can do, but wait and see what happens. In 2 years I'll know more. At first, until about 1 month ago, there was slight pain in the palm of my hand, whenever pressure was applied, as well as frequent, short bouts of "phantom pain," i.e. sharp pain in the areas that have lost feeling, so they shouldn't be able to feel anything. So, that's gone now, my elbow is all healed up, although a pretty mean scar remains, the pain is gone and I can move my hand relatively well, compared to some people Ive read about.

I am a guitar player and used to play in a band, but since my accident, it has been impossible to even play the simplest chords. I have been quite depressed for the first month or two after my injury, until I decided to just pick up a new instrument that didn't need fingers. Are there any musicians out there who have had a similar problem? Did you ever regain the ability to play?

By now, most of the muscles in my left hand have atrophied to the point, where there is a notable difference in the size / volume of my hands. Since about half of the muscles haven't been used since the accident, my hand is a lot weaker and looks quite gaunt. Especially the area between thumb and index finger is so thin and soft, that it looks more like it's webbed than anything else. Guitar playing has become impossible; I can't spread my fingers anymore or close them together. they will only move up or down. I have no "ulnar claw," however, since I have been using a cast at night for two months now. So that's pretty good news, I guess.

I am still hoping to be able to pick up guitar playing again in two years, although most of what I have read here so far has been rather discouraging. I test the progress of my nerve's growth every now and then by slapping my arm with my index finger. when I hit a spot where an electric tingling shoots up my arm into my pinky, I know that's where the nerve ends are currently located and they've already progressed a good 2-3 cm toward their goal.

Are there any patients here, who have had their ulnar nerve severed and made a near full recovery? How long did it take after you regained feeling for you muscles to return to full strength? Is full flexibility and range of movement back? Did anyone have to go back into surgery long after the accident happened? Has anyone received treatment as quickly as I did, to raise the chances of a full recovery?

Thank you for any answers and for sharing your experiences.





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