Neurolysis refers to the procedure of ‘freeing up’ a nerve surgically. Normally a nerve glides smoothly with the movements of a joint which the nerve traverses. However if there has been previous surgery or trauma, scar could form around or within the nerve. A tethered nerve would have reduced excursion which could result in shooting pain when the joint is moved (ie Traction Tinel’s sign). If the constriction is severe, conduction of that nerve may be impaired leading to loss of functions (sensory and/or motor).
Neurolysis involves meticulously releasing any scar or constricting tissue around or within a nerve. It is important that the procedure is performed under magnification (loupes or microscope) to ensure that normal neural tissue is preserved. Intraoperative nerve stimulation or conduction studies may be helpful in specific cases to help distinguish functioning from nonfunctioning tissues.