Nerve damage can affect you for the rest of your life, long after your primary injuries have healed. For many, neuropathy is a hidden but far from silent ailment that makes it difficult to enjoy life and perform daily activities.
What Is Nerve Damage?
The human body has three primary types of nerves:
- Sensory nerves send information from the skin to the brain and spinal cord. These nerves help us feel pain, temperature, numbness, and other sensations.
- Motor nerves control voluntary movement by sending messages between the brain, spinal cord, and muscles.
- Autonomic nerves control voluntary and partially voluntary movement. This includes blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature regulation.
Nerve damage, also called neuropathy, happens when there is damage to the peripheral nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord. Nerve damage can affect a single nerve or a group of nerves. The severity of the injury, location and type of nerves, and number of nerves affected will determine the severity of the neuropathy and the symptoms of the damage.
There are three primary types of nerve damage in accident victims.
Mononeuropathy happens when a single nerve becomes damaged. For example, a herniated disc can compress a single nerve. Polyneuropathy happens when multiple groups of nerves are affected. This means multiple areas of the body are affected.
Neuritis happens when there is inflammation that affects a nerve, sometimes when a nerve is compressed due to an injury that cuts off the blood supply.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
The exact signs and symptoms of neuropathy depend on the nerves that have been damaged, particularly the type of nerves.
However, nerve damage often affects more than one type of nerve, and symptoms can overlap.
Symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy
Symptoms of damage to the autonomic nerves may include:
- Dizziness or fainting with changes in blood pressure
- Reduced ability to sweat
- Rapid heart rate
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heat intolerance
- Diarrhea or constipation
The autonomic nerves control many involuntary physiological processes.
When these nerves are damaged, symptoms can affect sexual arousal, digestion, respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate.
Symptoms of Motor Neuropathy
Signs of damage to motor nerves can include:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle atrophy
- Muscle cramps
- Coordination problems
- Muscle paralysis
Because the motor nerves control actions and movement, symptoms primarily involve the muscles and movement.
Symptoms of Sensory Neuropathy
Signs of damage to sensory nerves include:
- Coordination problems
- Shooting or burning pain
- Tingling sensations
- Lost ability to feel pain or sensitivity to pain
- Reduced ability to feel temperature
- Changes to the skin, nails, or hair
Damage to the sensory nerves can affect your ability to sense changes in the environment and physical sensations like touch and pain.
Chronic Pain and Injury from Nerve Damage
Sometimes nerve damage can be reversed to a degree or the severity of the damage can be controlled. However, when a nerve is severed, it will result in a permanent loss of function and/or sensation. Many people who suffer nerve damage after an accident are left with chronic pain and permanent injury.
What Are Common Causes of Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage may be the result of disease such as diabetes or lupus, toxin exposure, or traumatic injury. It can range in severity from mild tingling sensations to complete paralysis.
In many cases, nerve damage is the result of some type of trauma. This can involve some type of deep laceration, blunt force trauma, or a medical error. Nerve damage can also be a secondary issue that develops after some type of trauma.
While some types of injuries are very obvious and visible after an accident, nerve damage may not be apparent for some time. Damage to the nerves may happen over time when a nerve becomes pinched or trapped, or the initial pain of an accident and treatment may mask neuropathy.
The following are the most common causes of nerve damage outside of disease.
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic nerve damage. A crash can cause nerve damage in any number of ways:
- Whiplash from a sudden, forceful stop can pinch nerves in the neck
- A back injury from an accident can pinch nerves in the spine
- Traumatic amputation can lead to phantom limb syndrome, a type of nerve pain
- Lacerations can directly cause damage to nerves
The most common locations for nerve damage after a traffic accident include the back, neck, feet, and hands.
Sadly, thousands of people are left with serious injuries every year due to mistakes by a medical professional.
Medical malpractice may lead to nerve damage in multiple ways:
- Improper use of a surgical tourniquet
- Negligent use of surgical tools that compress or cut a nerve
- Incorrect positioning allows too much pressure to be applied to a nerve for an extended period of time
- Failure to accurately diagnose a degenerative condition
- Anesthesia errors that cause nerve damage
During surgery, nerve damage can happen when a nerve is severed or stretched, due to compression that reduces circulation, or errors that cause inflammation surrounding a nerve.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Many slip and fall accidents are minor, but these accidents are also responsible for 17,000 deaths every year and more than 8 million ER visits. While fractures are the most commonly recognized serious injury resulting from a slip and fall, these accidents can also cause nerve damage.
Nerves may be damaged from a cut, overextension or stretching, or blunt force trauma in a fall.
Sadly, many workers who are injured in a workplace accident suffer long-term consequences including disability and chronic pain. Nerve damage is a common consequence of many work-related accidents including those involving amputation, burns, and electrocution.
Any type of workplace accident can lead to nerve damage, including accidents caused by defective equipment, inadequate safety equipment, a lack of training, or unsafe work conditions.
What Compensation is Available for Nerve Damage in an Injury Claim?
Nerve damage can affect every aspect of your life. It can leave you with chronic pain, debilitating loss of sensation and function, and an inability to work. You may also face extensive medical bills to treat the neuropathy and the primary injuries you have suffered.
If another party is found liable for your accident, you can seek compensation for your nerve damage and other injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.
A Houston nerve damage injury lawyer can help you seek fair financial compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatments related to your injury
- Disability and reduced or lost earning capacity
- Lost wages for time you had to take off work
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and scarring
A Houston nerve damage lawyer will help you understand what your case may be worth and the type of damages you can seek from the at-fault party.
Contact a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer
Have you suffered nerve damage as a result of an accident in Houston, TX? If your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional misconduct, you may be entitled to compensation. A personal injury lawsuit can help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
Attorney Brian White & Associates, P.C. has spent decades representing injured victims in Houston.