Though people often associate car accidents with injuries like broken bones, cuts, and bruises, there are other internal forms of damage that may take place. Ignoring internal damage can result in serious health issues down the line if not attended to. If you have recently been in a car accident and are experiencing tingling or numbness, these may be signs of nerve damage.
Forms of Nerve Damage from a Car Wreck
Whiplash is the most common form of injury in a car accident due to the vulnerabilities of the head and neck to the force of a collision. While our bodies are relatively fastened in place by seat belts and secured in place by the deployment of airbags, the muscles in our head and neck are free to move around because of the sudden jolt of a collision. With whiplash, the damage to your spine and neck can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. There can be inflammation and pressure from the muscles on the nerves, causing them to become pinched or compressed.
A herniated disc, which happens when the soft part of the spinal disc slips through to the harder exterior, can be a result of whiplash. This can occur in both the neck and back, and if you are experiencing a herniated disc, you will feel the result of the disc putting pressure on nearby nerves, which will eventually damage them.
A pinched nerve is similar to whiplash and herniated discs. Pinched nerves are a type of inflammation that can occur in a few different parts of the body as a result of trauma and can lead to damage if left untreated. One type of nerve pinch that can happen is sciatica. The sciatic nerve covers a large area, from the lower back, through the hips, and down the legs. If this nerve is pinched you will experience leg numbness, leg pain, lower back pain, and pain from sitting.
In extreme cases you may suffer from severed nerves. This happens if an accident results in deep cuts or sudden movements. Either of these can lead to severance of the nerves, possibly requiring surgery.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage After a Car Wreck
The most common sites of nerve damage are around the spine and in the arms, and immediate symptoms include pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Long term symptoms that occur after a nerve is pinched or compressed for too long includes muscle spasms, sensitivity, and burning sensations. You may also experience headaches, bladder/bowel issues, loss of coordination, reduced mobility, or full or partial paralysis.
It is important to note that injuries like this do not present themselves immediately. Nerve damage can linger and increase in severity in ways that you may not notice until a significant amount of time passes. You will need to keep in contact with your injury lawyer during the entire process of your rehabilitation and treatment to ensure they have the records they need to win your case.
Proving and Treating Nerve Damage after a Car Accident
When you go to your doctor there are a few ways to test for nerve damage. They may test your cerebrospinal fluid using a spinal tap; run an electromyogram (EMG) to see how electricity is flowing through your muscles; perform a nerve conduction test; have you go through a CT scan, MRI, or x-ray; or take a biopsy of the nerve.
Treatment can be surgical or non-surgical. Surgery is rare but can be useful in reducing pain from pinched or severed nerves. If the nerve is torn, then they will need surgical repairs. Non-surgical options include physical therapy, massage, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, and bedrest.