Nerve damage can result from many types of injuries. Anything from a crushing injury to a broken bone can compress or tear a nerve.
Nerve damage manifests in different ways depending on the location of the nerve. Peripheral nerve damage can cause pain, numbness, and tingling. A damaged spinal cord could cause paralysis.
Nerve damage is common after an accident. With this in mind, here is some information about the causes and effects of nerve damage, along with the compensation you can pursue if another party caused your nerve damage.
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How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
The nervous system controls your body. It provides pathways for your brain to control both voluntary and involuntary responses.
The brain connects to the body through the cranial nerves and the spinal cord. The cranial nerves run through your head and connect your eyes, facial muscles, nose, tongue, and ears to your brain.
The spinal cord helps your brain to control everything below your head. These nerves carry signals from your brain to your body and from your body to your brain.
The spinal cord runs down the spinal canal. At each vertebra, nerve roots branch off of the spinal cord and run to various regions of your body.
The nerve roots split off into many smaller branches. These smaller branches, called peripheral nerves, connect your muscles and organs to the nerve roots.
Nerve cells, or neurons, make up the nerves. These cells communicate with each other using electrical signals. When trauma or disease damages these cells, they cannot communicate. They might not pass signals down the nerve. Alternatively, they might misfire, sending a signal erroneously.
What Are the Different Types of Nerve Damage?
Damage to the nerves can happen in many ways.
Diseases and toxic chemicals can damage the nerves. For example, some diseases and toxic chemicals attack the myelin sheath around the nerves.
This sheath performs the same function as the insulator on an electrical wire. When this sheath gets damaged, the nerve signals can get weakened or lost.
Peripheral Nerve Injury
Peripheral nerve damage causes peripheral neuropathy. Nerves cannot carry signals if they get severed or torn. They may also lose signals if the nerve cells get pinched. A pinched nerve may also misfire, sending signals when it should not.
Since peripheral nerves lay at the end of the branches, peripheral nerve damage might only cause symptoms in a specific body part. For example, peripheral nerve damage in your wrist might only affect your fingers.
Trauma can sever or compress nerves. An injury can pull the nerve tissue and tear it. A foreign object or a bone fragment can cut through a nerve. Inflammation, a dislocated bone, or a foreign object can press on the nerve.
Nerve Root Injury
Nerve roots connect peripheral nerves to the spinal cord. Nerve root injuries can cause symptoms throughout a body region, such as an entire hip and leg.
Since nerve roots branch off of the spinal cord, nerve root damage usually results from back or neck injuries. A dislocated vertebra or herniated disc can press on a nerve root, damaging the nerves.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord carries all of the nerves connecting the brain to the body. A spinal cord injury can affect a large area of your body. A severed spinal cord in your lower back can cause paralysis from the waist down.
Spinal cord injuries result from back trauma. A foreign object or bone fragment can sever or compress the spinal cord. Similarly, a fractured vertebra or herniated disc can protrude into the spinal canal and irritate or sever the spinal cord.
Although it is not technically a nerve, the brain is made of neurons. These neurons communicate with each other and the rest of the body using nerve signals.
When you suffer a brain injury, you might experience symptoms throughout the body. You can also experience emotional and cognitive problems, like confusion and depression.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
The symptoms you experience from nerve damage will depend on the role the nerves role and where they are located. You have three types of nerves in your body:
The motor nerves provide signals to move your muscles. Your brain generates these signals under your direction. For example, if you want to catch an object, your brain raises your hand and closes it around the object as it hits your hand.
Symptoms of motor nerve damage include:
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of dexterity
- Loss of coordination
You will often notice the loss of motor function and associate it with your accident. But you might not necessarily link it to nerve damage until you continue to experience symptoms after your muscles heal.
Sensory nerves collect information about your environment for your brain. These nerves collect information through the five senses — sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
The sensory nerves work with the motor nerves. When you catch an object, you use your vision to see the object coming and your touch to feel it hit your hand.
Symptoms of sensory nerve damage include:
- Tinnitus or loss of hearing
- Blurry vision or loss of vision
- Loss of smell or taste
- Loss of temperature sensitivity
The sensory nerves run alongside motor nerves. As a result, a loss of sensory function usually accompanies a loss of motor function.
Autonomic nerves control your body’s involuntary systems. Damage to autonomic nerves can cause:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Problems with digestion
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- High or low blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
Since autonomic nerves run to the organs, you can suffer autonomic nerve damage without experiencing motor or sensory nerve damage.
What Compensation Can I Recover for Nerve Damage?
Compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence can include economic and non-economic damages. Since doctors cannot repair severed nerves, you could face a lifetime of symptoms stemming from nerve damage.
These symptoms could require costly medical treatment, physical therapy, and medication. Your compensation can cover all of these expenses.
Your symptoms might also require you to miss work, cut your hours, or change jobs. Your compensation can include your lost income.
Your non-economic damages compensate you for the diminishment in your quality of life due to your injuries. Evidence of pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, and loss of activities can support a claim for non-economic damages.
Contact a Fort Worth Personal Injury For Help
To discuss the compensation you can seek for your nerve damage, contact Stephens Law Office, LLC for a free consultation. Our experienced Fort Worth personal injury attorneys can help you to understand your legal options.