By: Grace Hancock
Everyone has their foot fall asleep every now and then, so experiencing feelings of numbness and tingling after a car accident may seem insignificant to you. That being said, if you are experiencing numbness and tingling in any of your extremities; whether that be your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, or another part of your body, don’t write off or ignore your symptoms. Symptoms you may consider insignificant like numbness and tingling could be indicative of a much more serious injury: nerve damage.
Causes of Nerve Damage
There are three types of nerves in your nervous system: autonomic nerves, motor nerves, and sensory nerves. Each type of nerve is responsible for controlling a different function of your body. For example, motor nerves control your movement by relaying information from your brain and spinal cord to your muscles. Nerve damage occurs when an injury splices, crushes, or pinches your nerve, or when your nerve is stretched or compressed. Since all three types of nerves are responsible for essential bodily functions, damage to any of your nerves can significantly impact the quality of your life.
Most Common Cause of Nerve Damage from a Car Accident
A sprain or strain happens when muscles, tendons, or ligaments are stretched or torn. When muscles, tendons, or ligaments surrounding the spine are stretched or torn, doctors call that a strain or sprain-type injury, also commonly referred to as whiplash. Whiplash most commonly happens during a car crash when you are rear-ended and the forces of the collision are so great that they cause your neck to snap forwards and backward so hard that it stretches or tears muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your neck.
Herniated Discs and Pinched Nerves
This type of whiplash injury caused by a car collision can also result in a herniated disc and/or pinched nerve. The force of the collision that caused your whiplash could also cause you to herniate a disc which causes a pinched nerve. These specific discs are referred to as intervertebral which sit in between each and every one of your vertebrae going from your skull down to your lower back and act as cushions so that your vertebrae just aren’t sitting on top of each other bone to bone. Intervertebral discs have a tough outer layer and a soft inner layer, almost like a jelly doughnut. When you get in some type of rear-end collision and your neck snaps forward and back or your back is torqued beyond the range of motion of what it should be, oftentimes that also damages the intervertebral discs and it does something called herniates the discs which will cause part of that jelly-like substance in the middle of the intervertebral disc to come out and press on one or more of your nerves that are leaving your neck or your lower back. Nerve roots that go out of your spine and your neck actually can go down your arm and into your fingers. If the nerve is pinched in your neck, that often results in irritation to the sensory and motor nerves and so you will feel pain going down your arm you may feel numbness and tingling in various points of your arm or in your hand or hands depending on where the nerve irritation is.
Diagnosing Nerve Damage
Like with head injuries, nerve damage can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms may not occur until days or weeks after the initial accident. Additionally, nerve damage may be confused with usual aches and pains. Symptoms of nerve damage can vary from person to person, however, the most common signs of nerve damage include: decrease or loss in reflexes, muscle weakness, radiating or shooting pain, and numbness and tingling. Many car accident victims who’ve suffered nerve damage experience symptoms in their face, shoulder, arms, hands, legs, or feet, depending on where on their body they sustained crash-related injuries. The symptoms of nerve damage you experience after a car crash will differ according to the nature of the injury you’ve suffered. Nerve damage may be resolved with treatment but can be permanent, depending on the degree of severity your nerve damage is.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of possible nerve damage after a car crash, contact a medical professional immediately. It is always best practice to meet with a medical professional right after a car accident, because even the most minor symptoms may be indicative of a bigger issue and can worsen over time if not treated immediately.
Nerve Damage Treatments
Nerve irritation or nerve damage caused by a nerve being pinched by a herniated disc can be sometimes temporary. Typically, when the inflammation of the injury goes away, those radiating types of symptoms also go away. However, your symptoms can be permanent and result in permanent injuries that might need medication to take care of including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers. Treatment could also include physical therapy to try to strengthen those muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it could include pain management which would include epidural steroid injections or radiofrequency ablations of certain nerves surrounding your spine. If none of those treatments work after all of the conservative therapy has been tried and if your problems don’t go away within six months or less, then and only then do doctors talk about possibly having the need to have surgery.
The type of medical treatment you receive for your nerve damage will vary depending on where the nerve damage is in your body and its severity, which is why it’s so important to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. The cost of your medical bills, including the cost of any future medical treatment, should be accounted for in your personal injury claim- especially if your nerve damage is severe and likely to result in long-term or permanent damage. Long-term or permanent nerve damage that requires constant medical care will likely result in larger financial compensation.
We Can Help
A car crash can happen in an instant, but result in life-long injuries. Car accident victims are often left with nerve damage injuries that can lead to long-term medical treatment, high medical bills, and even permanent damage. If you or a loved one have recently sustained nerve damage from a car accident, there’s no need to suffer alone. It’s important that you seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer. A Hancock Injury Attorney will be able to help you estimate the costs of your injury so that you are sufficiently compensated for your nerve damage. Contact us today for a free case consultation.