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Physiology Overview

OVERVIEW
• You must know the normal physiology and injured pathophysiology of the peripheral nervous system to effectively evaluate and treat patients with these disorders.
• Unlike the central nervous system, axons in the peripheral nervous system can recover from injury and regenerate.
• Determining which patients would benefit from surgery, watchful waiting or other interventions is challenging, and appropriate treatment choices should be dictated by the pathophysiology at hand.
In this section we will discuss the following:
• Physiology--what tissue is in the nerve and how does it work.
• Pathophysiology--what happens when a nerve is injured and how that injury can be repaired.
• Classification systems:
• There are classification systems for nerve injury.
• Classification of the injury by degree of nerve injury is important in developing a comprehensive treatment plan.
Note that our understanding of the pathophysiology of nerve injury and recovery changes with new data derived from ongoing research in the field.  Some areas are controversial and a clear consensus is lacking.  Wherever possible, we try to highlight this but further individual investigation by the treating surgeon is recommended for all patient-related care.