Nerve damage can produce symptoms ranging from tingling to paralysis. Although treatment can sometimes relieve the symptoms of nerve damage, doctors cannot repair severed nerves. As a result, severe nerve damage can last the rest of your life.
Any accident can cause nerve damage. Falls can result in spinal cord injuries. Broken bones can sever nerves in a limb. Swelling after a muscle strain can pinch nerves.
Have questions about nerve damage and the compensation you can seek for it? Read on to learn more.
How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
Nerves connect the brain and the body. They allow the brain to control the body. They also allow the brain to collect information through the senses.
Nerves contain cells called neurons. Neurons communicate with each other with electric signals. A nerve signal passes from neuron to neuron along the nerve until the signal reaches its destination.
These signals get disrupted when you suffer nerve damage. Severed nerves cannot transmit nerve signals. Compressed nerves might only transmit diminished signals. They might also misfire, sending errant signals.
Nerve damage can happen at two points in the nervous system. These stem from two primary types of injuries:
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord includes the nerves that run from the brain through the spinal canal. A spinal cord injury happens when trauma or disease damages the spinal cord.
Peripheral Nerve Injuries
Peripheral nerves radiate from the spinal cord. Peripheral nerve injuries usually only affect a specific body part, rather than an entire area. For example, damage to the median nerve in the wrist will cause symptoms in the fingers and hand.
What Are the Causes of Nerve Damage?
Some examples of injuries that can cause nerve damage include:
Broken bones can displace and sever or compress nearby nerves. For example, a broken neck can cause death because the broken vertebrae in the neck can sever the spinal cord.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue can swell when it gets injured. This swelling can compress nerves, leading to nerve damage.
One of the most common soft tissue injuries that leads to nerve damage occurs when you injure a disc in your back. The injury can cause the disc to bulge or rupture, putting pressure on the spinal cord.
A foreign object can penetrate your flesh and sever your nerves. It can also lodge in your body and compress nerves. If a surgeon can remove the object compressing the nerves, your symptoms may go away.
Repetitive motions can cause swelling that compresses nerves and produces nerve damage. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, results from damage to the median nerve in the wrist from typing or other repetitive finger motions.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
The body has three types of nerves, which include:
Autonomic nerves carry signals from the brain to control involuntary systems like the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. Signals along the autonomic nerves control the muscles in your chest that cause you to breathe. They also stimulate the muscles in your abdomen that move food through your digestive tract.
Damage to the autonomic nerves can cause death. Non-fatal injuries to your autonomic nerves can cause:
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Sexual dysfunction
The nerves that control these functions radiate from your lower back. By contrast, the nerves that control your heart, lungs, and diaphragm radiate from your neck and upper back. Thus, a nerve injury in the neck has a higher likelihood of causing death.
Motor nerves carry signals from the brain to the body to control its muscles. Damage to motor nerves can cause symptoms such as:
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of dexterity
- Loss of coordination
The location in which you lose motor control will depend on the nerves that are damaged. The nerves that control the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers radiate from the spinal cord in the neck. The nerves that control your hips, legs, feet, and toes radiate from your lower back.
This means that severed nerves in the neck can lead to quadriplegia. Severed nerves in the back can lead to paraplegia.
Sensory nerves carry sense impressions from the body to the brain. These sensory signals vary widely, depending on where they originate from.
Damage to sensory nerves can cause:
- Numbness or tingling
- Pain or burning sensations
- Loss of balance
Sensory nerve damage often accompanies motor nerve damage in the same area. For example, damage to the nerve roots leading from your spinal cord to your legs could cause pain and weakness in the legs.
What Are the Risk Factors for Nerve Damage?
Some accidents have a high risk of causing nerve damage, including:
Car accidents can cause your spine to twist, bend, and hyperextend. As your spine rebounds, you can suffer fractured vertebrae, damaged discs, and a sprained back. The structures of the back can displace, damaging the spinal cord and the nerve roots radiating from it.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries. Vehicles can weigh one to two tons. All of the energy of this massive weight gets transferred to your body when you get hit.
These accidents can break bones and tear soft tissue, resulting in damage to the peripheral nerves and spinal cord.
Elevated falls and slip and falls can break bones. They can also damage soft tissue. As your tissue swells after a fall, the tissue can compress nerves.
What Compensation Can You Seek for Nerve Damage?
Some types of nerve damage will only produce temporary symptoms. Doctors can relieve the pressure on your nerves with anti-inflammatory medicine or surgery in many cases. While you may have substantial medical bills from your treatment, you will usually avoid long-term medical care and therapy.
But in other cases, you might suffer from permanent nerve damage. Doctors cannot repair severed nerves. As a result, you could face a lifetime of treatment and therapy when your accident severs nerves.
Your damages after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence can include your current and future medical expenses. It can also include your lost income if your injuries cause you to miss work.
Your damages may also include compensation for pain and suffering. If your injuries diminish your quality of life, you may seek compensation for these non-economic losses.
Contact a Miami Injury Lawyer for Help
To discuss the compensation you can seek for your nerve damage, contact Shaked Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. Our Miami personal injury lawyers are standing by.