How long will it take to recover from a fracture and radial nerve palsy?
Q: I met with an accident and ended up with a right humerus fracture & radial nerve palsy. How much time will it take to recover from radial nerve palsy? I have undergone surgery with dynamic compression plates (DCP) two months back. What type of exercises do I have to do? How much time will it take to drive a two wheeler? I am a bodybuilder. In future, can I continue to go to the gym? What type of precautions do I have to take? Regarding DCP plates, after how long will the plates be removed from my hand? What type of diet is recommended for a speedy recovery from a fracture and radial nerve palsy?
A:The radial nerve (responsible for wrist and finger extension) winds around the lower third of the Humerus bone to enter the lateral compartment in the distal forearm. Fractures at this site causes the radial nerve injury. It is very important to know the details about the nerve status at the time of operation by DCP and screws. Being taken for granted that the nerve was injured (cut, damaged) and no surgery for the nerve was done, then it should be considered as neurontmesis type of nerve injury. For all practical purposes, it takes 3 weeks after the nerve injury for the reparative process to start (called Wallerian Degeneration). It grows 1mm/day will take an approximate period of 9-12 months to grow till the fingers. There is nothing like normal nerve function recovery. If you have a wrist drop (no wrist extension), I would suggest you put a splint called Dynamic cock-up splint, which helps encourage wrist extension by normal wrist flexion power till your recovery. The earliest sign of recovering nerve function is the recovery of Brachioradialis muscle, which will take approximately 2- 3 months after injury. There is no diet restriction. If you find no recovery in this muscle within 6 months, I would recommend you go for tendon transfer surgery depending upon the deficits you have. The DCP can be removed after 2 years of surgery. You can go back to the Gymnasium approximately 9 months after your full function recovery (irrespective of treatment).