Can a Car Accident Cause Nerve Damage?

nerve damage

Nearly anything that could cut, bruise, or otherwise injure you could cause nerve damage. However, car accidents are among the most common ways in which people suffer nerve damage. The jarring and violent nature of car accidents makes nerve damage a high possibility.

A car accident often leaves the injured driver feeling numb or tingling in a particular area of the body that was injured. Numbness and tingling are clear signs of nerve damage.

Nerves consist of little fibers, called axons. The fibers are covered with tissues that protect them. Sometimes, the fibers are damaged from an injury. In more serious accidents, both the fibers and tissues are damaged.

Nerves help your body and brain communicate. If your nerves sense something potentially dangerous, like extreme heat, the nerve signals warn the brain. That is what makes it possible to move away from the danger instead of suffering a burn. This system is vital to the body, and any damage could cause you to suffer from long-term, or even lifelong, complications.

What Are the Different Types of Nerves?

The peripheral nervous system is what relays nerve signals from the brain to various organs and other body parts. The signal goes from the brain to various nerve endings throughout your body and back again.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three types of nerves in the body:

  • Sensory Nerves: These nerves help you feel objects with your body, like a hot pan on a stove. This type of damage occurs because the nerves are not able to carry correct signals from the brain to the spinal cord. Signs of sensory nerve damage include numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and a feeling that the person is wearing tight gloves or socks. There may be coordination problems that make movements like walking difficult, as the person is unable to coordinate complex movements.
  • Motor Nerves: These control your muscle movements and enable you to move smoothly and fluidly. Damage to motor nerves is often associated with muscle weakness. It can also result in cramps, uncontrolled muscle twitching, and muscle shrinking.
  • Autonomic Nerves: These control bodily functions, like your heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration. Nerve damage to autonomic nerves could cause you to lose control of one or more bodily functions, including bladder control. This type of nerve damage disrupts the messages sent between the brain, organs, blood vessels, and sweat glands.

Common Car Accident-Related Nerve Injuries

A car accident can cause you to suffer nerve damage in various ways:

  • Cuts/lacerations: Cuts and lacerations commonly occur in accidents. Broken glass or a sharp object can severely cut you, causing nerve damage.
  • Whiplash: One injury that is common in car accidents is whiplash. During a collision, the head and neck may move in an unnatural way, causing damage. With the muscles and tendons stretching and straining, pain and discomfort are common.
  • Pinched/compressed nerves: If injured soft tissue puts pressure on nerves along the neck portion of the spine, the nerve can become pinched or compressed.
  • Herniated Disc: A herniated disc is another common car accident injury that could lead to nerve damage. As the disc swells from the blow to your back, it can put pressure on nearby nerves.
  • Neuropathy: Nerves can become damaged or inflamed in the peripheral nervous system. This leads to neuropathy, which means the disruption of nerve signals.
  • Sciatica: This is a specific form of neuropathy that occurs in the spine. When a nerve in the spine becomes compressed or pinched, you will feel pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness.
  • Permanent nerve damage: With more severe injuries, permanent nerve damage can result. Blunt force trauma and severe lacerations can damage a nerve, and this can leave a person with a permanent disability and unable to move certain parts of the body.

What Are Symptoms of Nerve Damage Following a Car Accident?

Common symptoms of nerve damage include:

  • Numbness and/or tingling in the hands and feet.
  • Feeling like the hands or feet are in tight gloves or socks.
  • Regularly dropping objects.
  • Sharp pains in hands, arms, legs, and/or feet.
  • A buzzing sensation that feels like a mild electrical shock.
  • Muscle weakness, particularly in arms and legs.

Nerve damage can be masked for a few days or even weeks after a crash, as the body recuperates from the shock and a rush of adrenaline and endorphins floods the senses. For this reason, you should get medical attention right away after any type of accident. The faster you are diagnosed, the quicker you can start healing.

Can Damaged Nerves Be Repaired?

In some cases, nerve damage can be repaired.If you suspect you have a nerve injury, a doctor will examine you and conduct different tests or scans, such as an electromyography (EMG). You are more likely to heal from an injury if you promptly get medical attention after a car accident.

Surgery might be needed to correct nerve damage. Surgery will involve exploring the injured nerve area, as well as the removal of injured tissue or scars from the nerve ending. In some cases, nerve grafting may be used. The injured person may start to feel sensation in the affected area gradually, often over a couple of months.

Kensington Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC Help Clients Suffering From Collision-Related Nerve Damage

A car accident can cause catastrophic injuries, including nerve damage. If you were in a recent collision and have significant nerve damage, our experienced Kensington car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law LLC can help. Contact us online or call us at 267-225-0770 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Northeast Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney, Pennsylvania.