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Neurological Issues From a Car Accident

Car Accident Nerve Damage

Sustaining a head injury in a car accident is a fairly common occurrence. Summarized from an article on HG.org, a legal resources information site, even a mild fender bender will likely jerk you enough to make your head bang against your headrest. Even this minor bump is enough to cause damage to the sensitive brain organ; equally as likely is the prospect of the damage being much worse since cars travel at such high speeds and brains are so susceptible to damage. Either of these events or anything in between may cause neurological issues after a car accident.

Nerve damage can occur during a car accident and cause serious debilitating effects, such as severe pain, crippling headaches, emotional and mental disorders, and the inability to work.

If you suffered nerve damage after a Florida car accident, consider hiring an injury attorney to help you with your case. Dolman Law Group can be reached online or by calling 727-451-6900. We look forward to helping you and your family.

Common Ways Car Accidents Cause Nerve Damage

There are various types of nerve damage that can occur when you are involved in an auto accident, and each one has a different set of symptoms and treatments. Consequently, the three ways nerves are generally damaged is by pressure, stretching, or the severing of the nerve itself. When it comes to car accidents, the most common ways your nerves can be damaged include;

  • Whiplash– the severe jerking motion of the head and neck can cause the nerves in this area to stretch or be pinched;
  • Blunt-force trauma– hitting your head, arms, or legs on a hard surface inside or outside of the vehicle can compress nerves; and
  • Lacerations– deep cuts to the skin sustained during an auto accident can sever the nerves in the affected area.

Car Accident Nerve Damage Treatment and Symptoms

Treatment options are varied and can include surgery, physical therapy, and medication. Only a trained medical professional can diagnose what type of nerve damage you have sustained and what method of treatment is best for your condition. Several symptoms or signs can help to indicate when nerves are damaged. These include full or partial paralysis of limbs and appendages such as fingers and toes; muscle weakness or pain; twitching or uncontrolled movements of muscles; a prickling sensation; tingling or numbness on the skin or in limbs; or increased sensitivity on the skin to hot and cold temperatures.

Other than the symptoms and concerns mentioned before, there are other specific neurological issues that can result from a car accident; two of these include the conditions of neuropathy and radiculopathy.

Nerve Damage after Car Accident

Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can be caused by trauma inflicted from a sports accident, work accident, auto accident, or repetitive motion injury. Neuropathy is commonly caused by trauma from a physical injury or surgery. These situations can cause nerves to be partially or completely severed, crushed, compressed, or stretched; sometimes so forcefully that they are partially or completely detached from the spinal cord. Broken or dislocated bones can place a damaging amount of pressure on neighboring nerves and slipped disks between vertebrae can compress nerve fibers where they emerge from the spinal cord [1].

Neuropathy is used to describe a problem with the nerves, usually the ‘peripheral nerves’ as opposed to the ‘central nervous system’ or the brain and spinal cord. This condition is seen with not only the traumas inflicted as describe above, but also with a number of underlying medical conditions. Whatever the case may be, there are three types of nerves that can be inflamed, they are autonomic nerves, motor nerves, and sensory nerves.

  • Autonomic nervescontrol the systems of the body.
  • Motor nervesallow power and movement.
  • Sensorynerves control sensation.

Car Accident Neuropathy Diagnosis

Diagnosing neuropathy and the possible treatment options can help a victim to regain a normal and healthy lifestyle. The doctor will begin their examination by reviewing the patient’s medical history, including symptoms, general health, any history of neuropathy in the family, any current or recent medications used, any exposure to poisons or toxins, alcohol consumption, and sexual history.

They will then begin to diagnose the location and cause of the neuropathy by examining the skin, checking the pulse in different places, checking for sensation, testing vibration sensations with a tuning fork, and examining tendon reflexes. As the source of the pain is narrowed down, the doctor may choose your precise methods of diagnosis, which include performing nerve conduction studies, electromyography, nerve biopsy, and skin biopsy.

Once the cause of the neuropathy is discovered, whether it’s inflammation of single or multiple nerves, this underlying cause can often be targeted for treatment. However, if the background condition cannot be corrected, treatment may take the form of symptomatic pain relief [2]. Due to the fact that the peripheral nerves have a limited capacity to regenerate, if a victim has become severely impaired, a victim may need physical therapy to help regain strength and avoid muscle cramping and spasms. Surgical treatment may be recommended for people with nerve damage from injury or nerve compression. As such, mobility aids, such as a cane, walker or wheelchair, may be helpful [3].

Compressed Nerve from Car Accident

Radiculopathy is the medical term for the compression or irritation of a nerve in the spinal column. It’s not exactly a specific condition, but rather a description of a general issue in which one or more nerves are affected and do not work properly. This can cause pain, numbness, tingling, “pins and needles”, or weakness along the course of the nerve. The condition can occur in any part of the spine, however, it’s more commonly found in specific areas.

  • It’s most common in the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy);
  • and in the neck (cervical radiculopathy);
  • it’s less commonly found in the middle portion of the spine (thoracic radiculopathy)—even so, it’s still highly debilitating.

Risk factors for radiculopathy are activities that place an excessive or repetitive load on the spine. People involved in heavy labor or contact sports are more prone to develop the condition than others who lead a more sedentary lifestyle [4].

Cervical radiculopathy is the medical description of pain and neurological symptoms resulting from any type of condition that causes inflammation to a nerve in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine. Degeneration of the cervical spine can result in a myriad of conditions that may result in neurological problems. These are usually divided between problems that come from unconscious issues in the neck and problems originating from nerves that are irritated or pinched. Lumbar radiculopathy causes chronic pain, which occurs in the lower back and legs.

Damage to the lower segments of the lumbar spine and compression of the very nerve roots that carry signals throughout the body can manifest in weakness and often numbness of the lower extremities. Acute trauma from a car accident or motorcycle accident can lead to very significant pathology including damage to the discs, muscles, and ligaments as well as to the nerves traveling throughout the spine from the neck to the lower back.

Car Accident Radiculopathy Diagnosis

Just like neuropathy, a diagnosis of radiculopathy begins with a medical history and physical examination by the physician. Once the patient’s muscle strength, sensation, and reflexes are tested, the doctor may be able to pinpoint a spot to focus testing on. These tests include X-rays, an MRI or even a CT scan. The examination can also include a nerve conduction study or electromyogram which tests the current threshold of sensibility in patients. Treatment after examination can be nonsurgical and or surgical if necessary [5]. Nonsurgical measures consist of rest, exercise, and medication. If this fails, surgical measures to take pressure off of affected nerve roots or the blood vessels that serve them in order to relieve pain include fusions of vertebrae and implants.

Can a car accident cause a pinched nerve?

Absolutely. The extreme strain and force that is often placed on the spine and neck during a car accident can definitely cause an injury severe enough to be classified as a pinched nerve. Since a pinched nerve is really just a common term for a nerve that has been damaged by compression or stretching, actions that occur in the car accidents, like whiplash can definitely cause a “pinched nerve”.

For more information, read What’s Causing Neck & Lower Back Pain after a Car Accident?”

Seek an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney

If you experience any of these issues after an accident, you may have nerve damage and should go to a doctor or emergency room to be properly diagnosed and treated. Dolman Law Group can work with you and your healthcare professional to determine you current and future medical needs and how they will factor into your traffic accident compensation claim.

The effects of nerve damage can take many years to heal, cause substantial medical bills and affect your ability to work and pay for them. Even with medical treatment and rehabilitation, you may never fully recover to your former abilities. You have the chance of being compensated for this unfortunate change in your life, especially if you have the support of an experienced auto accident lawyer to maximize the payment you receive. Call our offices today to set up a free consultation and evaluation. Our number is (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

Clearwater Car Accident Attorneys

References:

[1] https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=24593
[2] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/147963.php
[3] http://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-peripheral-neuropathy-treatment
[4] http://www.medicinenet.com/radiculopathy/page2.htm
[5] http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435200297.html