The epineurium is the layers of connective tissue that make up the outer layer of the peripheral nerves contained in the human body. Peripheral nerves consist of fibers that are responsible for carrying information to and from the spinal cord. The epineurium is the outer layer of these nerve bundles. This layer is made of tough connective tissue that serves as protection for the delicate nerve fibers. The inner portion of the epineurium encloses the individual bundles of nerve fibers, also known as fascicles.
The blood vessels that supply the nerves are also included as part of the epineurium. Epineurial cells, also referred to as epineural cells, make up the layers of this connective tissue. Therefore, this term can be applied to the cells themselves as well as the individual layers of tissue.
The inner epineurium is surrounded by another layer of connective tissue. This layer is known as the outer epineurium. These layers work together to provide support and protection for the nerve bundles, or fascicles. Adipose cells, also known as fat cells, and blood vessels are among the supportive structures found within the epineurium. Different types of nerves influence differences in the composition of the epineurial cells.
If the epineurium becomes damaged, whether by natural disease or a traumatic event, nerve damage becomes a concern. Without the protection of this protective covering, the nerve fibers themselves are easily susceptible to injury. Depending on the actual nerves that become damaged, a variety of medical issues may arise.
If the nerves known as autonomic nerves become damaged, involuntary functions of the body, along with some partially voluntary functions, may become compromised. Blood pressure and heart rate are among the bodily functions affected by this type of nerve damage. The body's ability to regulate temperature is also controlled by the autonomic nerves, as are parts of the digestive process.
Motor nerves control movement. Therefore, if these nerves become damaged, normal movement, particularly muscle movement, may be affected. The sensory nerves are responsible for physical sensations such as pain. When this type of nerve is damaged, chronic pain sometimes becomes an issue.
The treatment for nerve damage relating to epineurium injury varies according to the specific injury as well as the bodily functions affected by this damage. Medications and physical therapy are often prescribed. In severe instances, or when more conservative methods of treatment are not successful, surgery may become necessary in order to repair the nerves.