Car Accident Nerve Damage
Sustaining a head injury in a car accident is a fairly common occurrence. According to a source 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 brain, due to the high speeds at which vehicles travel and the fact that brains are so susceptible to damage. Further, such an impact can result in nerve damage which can manifest in a number of ways
Neurological Issues After A Car Accident
Nerve damage caused by a car accident can cause serious debilitating effects, such as severe pain, crippling headaches, emotional and mental disorders, and the inability to work. An untreated neurological injury can lead to a host of medical issues; including debilitating pain, loss of strength, numbness and tingling in both the upper and lower extremities, and drop foot.
If you suffered nerve damage after a Florida car accident, consider hiring an injury attorney to help you with your case. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can be reached online or by calling 727-451-6900. We look forward to helping you and your family.
What Type of Nerves Are in Our Body?
Nerves are extremely important to our bodily function; they are responsible for shooting electrical impulses to different parts of our body so that we can perform daily tasks.
When these nerves are damaged and unable to send the impulses throughout our body, we can run into serious problems, especially if the damage is done near the brain or spinal cord.
The three main types of nerves are:
- Autonomic Nerves: These nerves control blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, and other automatic bodily functions.
- Motor Nerves: These nerves are what allow us to move around. Damage done to these nerves can cause problems with our ability to move as well as cause muscle weakness and spasms.
- Sensory Nerves: These nerves allow the spinal cord to communicate with the brain and let us know how things physically feel, like hot, cold, soft, or hard.
Common Ways Car Accidents Cause Nerve Damage
There are various types of nerve damage that can occur when you are involved in an accident, and each one has a different set of symptoms and treatments. Consequently, the three ways nerves are generally damaged are 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.
There are other less common ways an individual can sustain and suffer from nerve injury.
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. Your doctor will be able to look at your spine and see which discs were damaged so they can better come up with a treatment plan specifically fit for your injuries.
Several symptoms or signs that can help to indicate when nerves are damaged can include:
- Full or partial paralysis of limbs and appendages such as fingers and toes
- Muscle weakness or pain along with stiffness of the neck and back
- The inability to understand tasks and information presented
- Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
- Twitching or uncontrolled movements of muscles
- A prickling sensation; tingling or numbness on the skin or in limbs
- Increased sensitivity on the skin to hot and cold temperatures
- Numbness and tingling of the legs, arms, or fingers
Other than the aforementioned symptoms and concerns, there are other specific neurological issues that can result from a car accident, including neuropathy and radiculopathy. They are all symptoms of a garden variety of nerve injuries.
Nerve Damage After a Car Accident
Neuropathy, or nerve damage, can be caused by trauma inflicted from a sports accident, work accident, car crash, 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.
Damage done to the nerves in the peripheral nervous system will generally affect your ability to stay balanced, hold onto objects, as well as affect other major motor skills needed for day-to-day life. Damage to these nerve fibers can also cause numbness and pain to the affected area.
Even if your head or spine were not specifically impacted, neurological disorders are still possible. This is why seeing a doctor or neurologist after a car accident is critically important. It is also essential to have a Neurologist rule out the diagnosis of a brain injury which can often be related to whiplash.
Different Neurological Injuries
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 describe above, but also with certain 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 nerves control the systems of the body
- Motor nerves allow power and movement
- Sensory nerves control sensation
Auto 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, the underlying cause can then often be targeted for treatment. If the background condition cannot be corrected, however, treatment may take the form of symptomatic pain relief.
Treatment of Nerve Damage
Since 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.
The most common neurological injury after a car accident would be a traumatic brain injury or TBI. Traumatic brain injuries can cause brain bleeding that is often not noticed right away after an accident. This can lead to many short-term and long-term problems if not properly handled by a doctor.
There are four different categories when it comes to TBI’s, they are:
To specifically read more about traumatic brain injuries, how they can affect you long term and short term, and how we can help with your legal case, read our complete guide on a TBI injury claim.
Compressed Nerve from Car Accident
Radiculopathy is the medical term for the compression or irritation of a nerve in the spinal column. It is 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 is more commonly found in specific areas.
- Radiculopathy is most common in the lower back (lumbar radiculopathy); injuries affecting this part of the spine are most often felt in the legs, feet, and toes. The hips can also be affected.
- Radiculopathy can also be found in the neck (cervical radiculopathy); the arms and fingers are usually the first to feel any sort of pain or tingling when injuries occur to the spinal discs in the neck. The numbness and pain can travel all the way down to the fingertips.
- Radiculopathy is less commonly found in the middle portion of the spine (thoracic radiculopathy)—even so, it is still highly debilitating. These symptoms can spread from the upper extremities to even your ribcage and chest area.
It is important to accurately discuss the symptoms you are having with your doctor so they can best assess your injuries.
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 those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
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. A myriad of conditions can cause degeneration of the cervical spine that may in turn 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.
Nerve Trauma From A Car Accident
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.
Motor Vehicle 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 both nonsurgical and surgical if necessary.
Nonsurgical measures consist of rest, exercise, and medication. If this fails, surgical measures to take pressure off affected nerve roots or the blood vessels that serve them in order to relieve pain include fusions of vertebrae and implants.
Can You Get a Pinched Nerve from a Car Accident?
Absolutely. Neck nerve damage from a car accident is caused by extreme strain and force and can definitely cause an injury severe enough to be classified as a pinched nerve. Anything from a quick acceleration to a collision can harm your nerves.
Depending on how severe the car accident was and where the damage occurred, different nerves can be pinched. The most commonly pinched nerves are in the neck and head due to whiplash. This motion could also lead to a compressed nerve or even a sprain in your neck.
If a bone is moved in the wrong way, dislocated, or broken, that can also cause nerves to be pinched. Stretching, severing, or burning nerves are other ways nerves can be damaged.
For more information, read “What’s Causing Neck & Lower Back Pain after a Car Accident?”
What are the Signs of a Pinched Nerve?
After an accident, it is common to not notice the pain until a couple of days after the accident. At the time of the accident your adrenaline is pumping hard, but once it wears off, is when you might start to feel the repercussions of the accident.
You could notice numbness, or a slight tingling sensation, twitching, even tremors after a car accident. The area around the pinched nerve might also be extra sensitive to touch and temperature, these are all possible signs of a pinched nerve.
Symptoms of a pinched nerve that are most often seen are:
- chronic pain
- unable to sleep
- chest pain
- bladder control
- dry eyes
- muscle weakness
The most common areas of pinched nerves from acute trauma, are the neck, middle of the back, hands, shoulders, and feet.
A neurologist will be able to run tests on you and create the proper treatment plan based on your injuries. Remember that your injuries will not always present themselves immediately after the accident, and you should inform your neurologist should any more symptoms arise after your initial consultation.
Can I Receive Compensation for My Injuries?
The effects of nerve damage can take many years to heal, cause substantial medical bills and affect your ability to work. Even with medical treatment and rehabilitation, you may never fully recover your former abilities. This is where hiring an attorney to help navigate your legal claim will be beneficial.
There are two different forms of compensation you might be able to receive; they are:
Economic Damages: These damages are clear cut. How much time did you have to take off work and lose out on pay? Did you have to quit your job altogether? How much was spent on medical expenses and doctors’ visits because of the accident? All of these add up and are considered economic damages.
Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages are not as straightforward. These damages revolve more around your quality of life and how the accident has affected you and the things you did before your car wreck. Are you now unable to go fishing because of your pinched nerve from the accident? That would be considered a non-economic damage.
To have a better understanding of the damages you could possibly obtain from a settlement, please reach out to our qualified attorneys who are ready to answer any questions you might have.
Contact an Experienced Florida Accident and Injury 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. Failure to see a doctor early on can cause problems later that might not be able to be treated as easily. Getting into a car wreck is already scary enough without having to worry about the burden of a legal case and wondering how you could possibly pay for all your medical treatment.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can work with you and your healthcare professionals to determine your current and future medical needs and how they will factor into your traffic accident compensation claim. You have the opportunity to be 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 deserve. Call our offices today to set up a free consultation and evaluation. Our number is (727) 451-6900.
Why Sibley Dolman Gipe?
Sibley Dolman Gipe is a nationally recognized personal injury law firm with a combined 115 plus years of experience. Our firm has collected over $175 million for our clients to date. We have built a reputation for litigating cases statewide. Our personal injury lawyers have a reputation with the insurance defense bar for aggressive litigation.
Matthew Dolman is a recognized injury lawyer who is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Advocates Forum for case settlements and verdicts in excess of $1 Million and $2 Million respectively. He has been named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by National Trial Lawyers and was selected by his colleagues as a Florida Super Lawyer and one of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions.
Stanley Gipe is recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer by the Florida Bar. He has served as lead counsel on numerous jury trials and over 1000 personal injury lawsuits. He has represented on a number of former clients who sustained a traumatic brain injury and presently represents a number of different clients who suffer nerve damage resulting in a grip strength loss or drop foot.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765