Most people are familiar with the central nervous system, i.e. the brain and spinal cord, but there are thousands of nerves in the body that are crucial to performing daily tasks. When these nerves are damaged, the disruption to nerve impulses can have severe consequences and impacts on an individual’s quality of life.
Although we are still learning about the effects of peripheral nerve damage and how to combat it, it is possible for the nerves to regenerate and repair themselves. Learn more about regenerative medicine and natural remedies to try.
What Is Peripheral Nerve Regeneration?
Peripheral nerve regeneration, or PNR, is a complicated process during which damaged peripheral nerves are repaired or replaced. Although this process occurs to some degree as a natural response of the body, it is being studied more extensively so that medical professionals can speed up and improve the effectiveness of the regeneration.
Nerve regeneration is when the axonal sprouts form at damaged nerves and grow into regenerated axons. This important biological process helps restore normal nerve function and sensation in affected areas for recovery from damage due to a wide variety of causes.
Before we can dive into the various ways in which peripheral nerve regeneration can be promoted and the benefits that can be derived from it, it is important to understand exactly what peripheral nerves are. The body’s nervous system consists of two main parts: the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The peripheral nervous system is all parts of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord. All of the nerves throughout the rest of the body are responsible for sending information to the brain and carrying out commands from the brain.
The PNS can be broken down further into two subsystems: autonomic and somatic. These two systems have three main functions, including managing your senses, movement, and unconscious processes. The somatic nervous system handles functions that require conscious thought, so it is responsible for sensory and movement processes. The autonomic nervous system, on the other hand, manages the bodily processes that the brain runs automatically. For example, maintaining a steady heartbeat and blood pressure, as well as breathing.
If any group of peripheral nerves is damaged, the injury can prevent normal motor and sensory functions. So even though peripheral nerve damage is less common than injuries to the CNS, nerve regeneration is crucial for restoring those functions and improving quality of life.
What Helps Peripheral Nerves Regenerate?
The natural process of peripheral nerve regeneration is complex and involves the participation of several cell types, including Schwann cells, fibroblasts, and macrophages. Although each of these cells plays a role in the process, Schwann cells are perhaps the most important players in regenerating peripheral nerves.
That is because they support regeneration by producing myelin, which insulates the nerve fibers and helps to speed up the transmission of nerve impulses. Without myelin, any information from the world around you cannot efficiently make it back to the brain, and commands from the brain are not transmitted smoothly. Schwann cells also secrete various growth factors and cytokines that are necessary for the survival and regeneration of nerve fibers.
Other factors that can promote peripheral nerve regeneration include providing adequate blood supply to the affected area, maintaining proper nutrition, and ensuring that the damaged nerve is not subjected to excessive mechanical stress or tension.
What Are Natural Remedies for Nerve Regeneration?
There are several things that can help promote peripheral nerve regeneration. These include vitamins, fruits and vegetables, electrical stimulation, and daily exercise.
Vitamin B is an essential nutrient for healthy nerve function. Other vitamins that can help promote nerve regeneration include vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Eating foods that are rich in these vitamins and taking supplements can speed up the natural regeneration process and help patients with peripheral nerve damage recover more quickly.
Fruits and Vegetables
This goes along with providing the body with the necessary nutrients to recover properly. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can provide these key nutrients to support nerve regeneration. Green and leafy vegetables in particular contain nutrients that are shown to improve nerve function. Fruits that are high in antioxidants — like berries, peaches, cherries, and oranges — can decrease inflammation and reduce nerve damage.
Electrical stimulation can help by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and nerve fibers. Regular use of electrical stimulation can accelerate nerve regeneration by increasing the outgrowth of axons, which in turn leads to earlier muscle functional recovery than letting the nerves repair on their own.
The use of electrical stimulation essentially takes the body’s natural response and boosts it so that patients can see results quicker and experience improved function. However, it is important to note that electrical stimulation offers more effective and efficient nerve regeneration for motor nerves than it does for sensory nerves.
Regular exercise can help improve circulation and promote the growth of new blood vessels, which is crucial to nerve regeneration. Like electrical stimulation, daily exercise promotes axon growth and shortens recovery time. Combining both exercise and electrical stimulation can have a greater effect, especially during the early stages of recovery.
What Are the Benefits of Peripheral Nerve Regeneration?
Although efforts to promote nerve regeneration are still being developed, the process has significant benefits for those that have suffered nerve damage for any variety of reasons. Even without other clinical therapies available, the above remedies can offer visible improvement in nerve regeneration, as well as improved daily performance, general mobility, and agility. The top three benefits of regenerative medicine are restored function, reduced pain, and improved quality of life.
Peripheral nerve regeneration can help to restore normal function and sensation to affected areas of the body. When the myelin sheath is repaired, the nerves can properly send and receive signals from the brain. This restored function in the muscles affected improves overall mobility and capability.
One of the effects of nerve damage is chronic pain. Fortunately, regenerative medicine helps to reduce this pain and discomfort by stimulating the production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is often produced after injuries and helps to reduce neuropathic pain, as well as stimulates regeneration.
Improved Quality of Life
Finally, the reduction of pain and restoration of function helps to improve the quality of life in individuals with nerve damage because it allows them to perform essential daily tasks more easily and effectively. Peripheral nerve regeneration makes proper rehabilitation popular and improves the recovery of motor and sensory nerves.
Frequently Asked Questions About PNR
How Long Does It Take for Peripheral Nerves to Heal?
The length of time that it takes for peripheral nerves to heal varies depending on the severity of the injury and the location of the damage. The speed and frequency with which patients seek natural or surgical remedies can also affect how quickly the nerves heal. In general, it takes several weeks to several months for the peripheral nerves to fully heal.
Can You Reverse Peripheral Nerve Damage?
For many years, it was believed that peripheral nerve damage was permanent and unable to be reversed. However, it is possible to reverse the damage to some extent. With new technologies like SoftWave emerging, PNR is becoming increasingly easier.
SoftWave technology is a non-invasive treatment that uses acoustic waves to stimulate nerve regeneration and works by increasing blood flow to the area. This increased blood flow promotes the growth of new nerve fibers and improves nerve function.
What Are the Signs of Nerve Regeneration?
Common signs of nerve regeneration include:
- Tingling or numbness in the affected area
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Increase sensitivity to temperature changes
- Muscle twitching or spasms
- Increased strength or control in the affected area
How SoftWave Can Help
Peripheral nerve regeneration is an important biological process that helps to restore normal function and sensation in affected areas after nerve damage. By promoting nerve regeneration through proper nutrition, exercise, and other interventions like electrical stimulation, individuals can improve their quality of life and reduce the pain and discomfort that is associated with nerve damage.
With the help of SoftWave technology, it is possible to reverse peripheral nerve damage and restore nerve function by promoting blood flow and stimulating the growth of axons. The non-invasive treatments from SoftWave are tailored to the specific needs of patients and can make a drastic difference in recovery.