Another vehicle hits your car in a motor vehicle accident. At the scene, you slide forward, hit another object and see your airbag deploy. The glass has partially shattered and you’re checking that all other passengers are safe: Are they conscious, can they walk, do they display any blatant injuries? At this point, nerve damage is often the last thing on your mind.
After a car accident, nerve injuries can show up days or weeks after the impact. They might not appear as serious as a broken arm or bruising, but nerve damage often lasts longer and requires ongoing medical attention. Varying in severity, nerve damage may become just as debilitating as an injury you can see, hindering work and decreasing your overall quality of life. So, what should you keep in mind?
How Nerve Damage Happens
Sensitive tissues within the body, nerves can interfere with the transmission of signals when damaged. When a car accident happens, the sudden movements and impact may put pressure on the back and spinal cord – key pathways for these signals. Yet, this motion isn’t the same in all accidents and your body could experience any of the following:
- Whiplash: Your head and neck may jerk back and forth, stretching, pinching or placing extra pressure on nerves in the neck and spine.
- Lacerations: Deep cuts incurred during an accident may sever the nerve tissue.
- Blunt Force Trauma: When a victim hits his or her head, legs, arms or another body part on a hard surface, the nerves may become compressed.
- Pinched Nerve: After an accident, a bone spur or ruptured disc can irritate or pinch the nerves running down the spine or arm. Known as entrapment neuropathy, this condition affects major nerve trunks and peripheral nerves, manifesting in pain or numbness.
- Neck Sprain and Strain: Any ligaments or tissues within the neck may be stretched or torn from an accident, resulting in general pain and stiffness.
- Herniated Discs: Also called a ruptured or slipped disc, this condition occurs when an accident places too much pressure on the spine. The victim experiences a combination of pain, numbness and weakness in the back and neck area.
- Broken or Dislocated Bones: In general, a bone moved out of place may compress or damage any neighboring nerves.
Symptoms and Treatment
In many cases, the victim often does not notice the injury right away, as adrenaline and endorphins at the scene can mask pain and numbness. Over the next few days, the following symptoms may surface:
- Prickling, numbness or tingling
- Weakness or pain in the limbs
- Full or partial paralysis of the extremities
- Twitching or uncontrollable muscle movements
- Heightened skin sensitivity, especially in contact with cold or warm
- Pain in the neck area
- Muscle spasms, especially around the neck
- Reduced range of neck motion
- A burning sensation
- Sharp or jabbing sensations
- Sensitivity to being touched
- Loss of coordination
- Bladder and bowel problems
Depending on the degree of injury, a doctor may recommend:
- Medication, including over-the-counter pain medications for mild symptoms or prescription painkillers, antidepressants or anti-seizure medications for more severe nerve damage.
- Physical therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
As you’re going through medical treatments related to nerve damage, consider pursuing a claim with a lawyer. During these cases, be ready with diagnostic nerve conduction to illustrate the impairment, get medical experts to prove you’ve sought treatment and describe in detail the symptoms related to nerve injuries, and be prepared to speak about how the injury has impacted your life. To begin, reach out to Trantolo & Trantolo’s car accident attorneys to learn more.