Nerve are very sensitive, and they can be injured by pressure, stretching, or penetrating injuries. Nerves have a limited ability to recover from injury. If the overall structure is preserved, the nerve has a chance of spontaneous recovery. If the structure is damaged, chances of full recovery become slimmer. If the nerve is severed, is becomes very hard for the nerve to heal on its own.
Nerve repair is a delicate surgery. Not only the surgeon has to reconnect the edges, he also has to match the internal bundles together. The repair usually requires very delicate stitches, and the repair should be tension free and as such should be protected from stretching for a few weeks following the surgery. After surgery, it takes a period of time for the nerve ending to regrow and reach their target. It usually takes weeks or months to do that. The feeling of pins and needles in the fingertips is common during recovery and is a sign of recovery. While recovery is on-going, therapy is important to keep the arm soft and mobile and ready for the nerve once it heals. During this period, care must be taken not to burn or cut fingers unknowingly because there is no feeling in the affected area.
Sometimes, the damage may have affect a stretch of the nerve making it difficult to connect the two edges. In such cases it may be necessary to bridge the gap with a piece of nerve (nerve graft) from another, less important part of the body.