Nerves carry signals between your brain and your body. When you suffer a nerve injury, you will lose sensation and control over part of your body. The nerves might misfire, producing pain and muscle spasms.
As a result of these symptoms, your quality of life can diminish significantly. You could also suffer financially from the expensive treatment and therapy you may need.
Below, read about the causes and symptoms of nerve damage and how to pursue compensation for it.
The Structure and Function of the Nervous System
Your nervous system has two main parts. The central nervous system includes your brain and spinal cord.
The brain controls the nervous system. It sends out control signals and receives sensory signals. The spinal cord carries all of the nerve signals between the brain and the body below the neck.
The peripheral nervous system contains:
Cranial nerves provide nerve connections between your head and your brain. The cranial nerves control your facial expressions, chewing, and swallowing. They also carry sense impressions to the brain from your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue.
The nerve roots branch off the spinal cord at each vertebra. Nerve roots carry all of the signals to and from a particular body region. Thus, a nerve root in your neck carries the nerve signals between your brain and your fingers, hand, and wrist.
The nerve roots branch into peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves run to a specific muscle or organ. Thus, the nerve root that connects to your left hand has multiple peripheral nerves that run to each muscle in the thumb.
Causes of Nerve Damage
Doctors usually use the term “nerve damage” to identify an injury in the peripheral nervous system. If you damage your central nervous system, doctors will identify the injury as a brain injury or a spinal cord injury.
Peripheral nerve damage can happen in a few ways, including when a nerve gets:
Nerves carry signals using a combination of electricity and chemistry. When a nerve cell gets stimulated, it passes charged atoms, called ions, to its surface. The next nerve cell detects the electric charge and passes its ions to the surface. This chain reaction continues to pass a nerve signal along the length of the nerve.
When a nerve gets severed, nerve cells cannot pass signals to each other across the gap created.
A laceration can sever a nerve. For example, if you suffer a deep cut in your leg in a car accident, you might have symptoms of peripheral nerve damage in your foot afterward.
A broken bone can also sever a nerve. In a displaced fracture, the broken ends of the bone move out of alignment after the break. As the broken bone displaces, it can tear nerves.
Burns are chemical reactions that destroy tissue. Whether a burn results from heat, combustion, caustic chemicals, or radiation, a burned nerve cannot carry a nerve signal.
Traction forces on a nerve can stretch it. As the nerve stretches, the cells get damaged. Signals lose strength or get completely lost as they travel the damaged nerve.
A compressed nerve, also called a pinched nerve, happens when swelling or a dislocation presses on a nerve. For example, a herniated disc in your spine can press on a nerve root after a slip and fall accident.
Pressure irritates nerves and causes them to inflame. Inflammation causes a nerve to generate pain signals. It can also cause the nerve to misfire.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage
Nerves carry three types of nerve signals. The symptoms you experience will depend on the nerve signals disrupted by your injury.
Sensory signals carry sense impressions from your body to your brain. These signals can include:
Symptoms of nerve damage to a sensory nerve can include:
- Loss of sensitivity to hot or cold
Sensory nerve damage to the cranial nerves can also lead to vision loss, hearing loss, and loss of taste or smell.
Motor signals control your voluntary responses. These signals go to most of the muscles in your body, including those in your limbs.
Damage to motor nerves can cause symptoms like:
- Muscle spasms
- Loss of dexterity
In extreme cases where the nerve gets severed, you may even experience paralysis.
The brain uses autonomic signals to control your involuntary systems. These systems run without conscious thought and include:
- Blood pressure
- Sexual arousal
- Body temperature control
When you suffer nerve damage to an autonomic nerve, you could experience symptoms like:
- High or low blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
- Inability to sweat
Bowel and bladder control use a combination of motor and autonomic signals. You could lose bladder and bowel control if autonomic or motor signals are disrupted.
Treatment for Nerve Damage
In some situations, doctors can repair damaged nerves. They can also prescribe drugs that reduce nerve inflammation to treat the symptoms of compressed nerves.
But in many cases, doctors cannot treat damaged nerves. As a result, you will experience chronic or recurring symptoms for the rest of your life.
Getting Compensation for Nerve Damage
You can seek injury compensation when someone else’s negligence caused your nerve damage. Your compensation can include your economic losses from your medical bills for treatment, therapy, and medication.
Economic damages can also cover the income you lost due to missed work. And if you had to change jobs or retire due to disabilities, you can recover compensation for your reduced earning capacity.
Your compensation also includes your non-economic losses. Non-economic losses include the diminishment in your quality of life from your injuries. Some examples of non-economic losses include pain, suffering, and a loss of the ability to engage in activities.
Contact a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
Nerve damage can cause severe and permanent symptoms. You could lose your ability to work or participate in activities you enjoy.