What is a Neurectomy?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A neurectomy is a type of surgery in which the surgeon removes all or part of a nerve. This surgery is generally considered as a more extreme approach to treatment which will only be brought out if other treatment methods are not working, because there are some risks to a neurectomy which can make it dangerous for a patient. A neurosurgeon typically performs this procedure, relying on years of experience with the nervous system to do the delicate work involved in stripping a nerve from the body.

Neurosurgeons perform neurectomies and other complex brain and nervous system procedures.
Neurosurgeons perform neurectomies and other complex brain and nervous system procedures.

One of the most common reasons to perform a neurectomy is if a patient experiences chronic pain. If other treatment methods for the pain have failed, a surgeon can remove the nerve sending the pain signals, thereby alleviating the patient's pain. Neurectomies can also be used for the treatment of other sensations which are unsettling or disturbing for a patient.

A neurectomy can be used to treat excessive sweating.
A neurectomy can be used to treat excessive sweating.

Removal of all or part of a nerve can also be used to treat conditions like involuntary twitching, blushing, or excessive sweating. Since this can sometimes involve the delicate nerves around the face, it requires a very high degree of skill and a steady hand to ensure that the right connection is severed, without causing damage to surrounding nerves.

Before a neurectomy is performed, a surgeon may recommend that a procedure be performed to temporarily block signals from the nerve. This allows the surgeon to confirm which nerve is responsible for the problem, and it gives the patient a chance to experience what life might be like without sensory input from that nerve. This may also reveal that a problem thought to lie in a specific nerve lies elsewhere, something which would be good to know before a nerve is permanently taken out of commission.

When a patient wakes up from a neurectomy, he or she should experience immediate relief from the condition which led to the neurectomy procedure. However, the patient can also experience numbness and other symptoms such as tingling or impairment of the surrounding nerves. In rare cases, a condition called stump neuroma occurs. In this case, even though the nerve is gone, the patient experiences searing pain. This condition also plays a role in phantom limb syndrome, a condition which is experienced by some amputees. While the brain is a highly adaptable organ, sometimes it can be confused by a major change, which can result in misfirings of neurons which cause the sensation of pain when no pain is present.

Removing all or part of a nerve can be used to treat involuntary blushing.
Removing all or part of a nerve can be used to treat involuntary blushing.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My father is suffering from ascites in the liver. He is taking all sorts of medicines and they are not working properly. He gets about three or four hours of pain relief. Now we are going to get a nerve block. Is it really useful to control the pain for life as the procedure says?


@KeepingFit - I also suffered from excessive sweating and had a sympathectomy about 6 months ago. I can honestly say it is the best decision I've ever made. It's changed my life!

The surgery is done under general anesthesia. In my case, it was covered by insurance. That's something you need to discuss with your doctor.

The only complication I had was a collapsed lung, which resolved itself. I had some soreness under my arms and around my ribs for about five days after. Best of all, I noticed the results almost immediately.


Ever since I was I teenager I've suffered from excessive sweating on my hands and underarms. I can't begin to explain how much embarrassment it has caused me and how it's impacted my life.

I'm currently considering a sympathectomy. In the past it was a complicated procedure that was considered major surgery. It's now done with an endoscope and an incision that is about an inch long.

I'm still weighing the pros and cons but would love to hear from anyone who has had this surgery and can share their experience with it.


My horse was diagnosed with navicular disease after we noticed it was stumbling and constantly shifting it's weight from side to side.

In a horse hoof, navicular disease isn't curable. It can be treated with medication. Unfortunately, my horse didn't respond well to the medicine and needed a neurectomy to sever the nerves in its foot. I'm happy to report that my horse is recovering well and no longer appears to be in pain.


The procedure that is often done before doing a neurectomy that involves a block to the suspected nerve should make the surgeon and the patient feel a lot better about surgery. It would be really good to know if the surgeon is taking out the correct nerve that is causing the pain.

The patient would have a chance to know how it would feel without any sensation, except numbness and irritation.

These neurosurgeons, who do neurectomies and other neurological surgeries are amazing people. They must be so calm and focused to work with such delicate and crucial body parts.


Wow! It would be a hard decision to make whether to have a neurectomy, that is a nerve taken out to relieve chronic pain. What, with all the things that could go wrong - the wrong nerve taken out, a mixed up brain that doesn't know there is no longer pain, but sends pain signals anyway, and numbness and irritation.

A few years back, a dentist forced a crown, that didn't fit, onto my tooth. The result was a damaged nerve and pain, pain, pain! I was treated by a specialist for several years, but pain medicine was about all that helped. Finally after the tooth was pulled, most of the pain went away. To this day, it still bothers me some.

I'm very grateful that I didn't have to have a neurectomy surgery.

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