Car Accidents & Nerve Damage

What is Neuropathy or Peripheral Neuritis?

Neuropathy, also called peripheral neuritis, is a weakness, numbness, or pain from nerve damage. These symptoms often happen in the hands or feet, but can also occur in the legs and other areas. Peripheral neuropathies include carpal tunnel syndrome and general nerve damage. The most commonly affected people are over the age of 55, and it is found in 3-4% of people in this age group. 

About the Peripheral Nervous System

The human nervous system has two parts, the first part being the central nervous system which is the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system are the parts of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord. This includes cranial nerves, spinal nerves, and all their roots and branches. The central nervous system is protected by the vertebrae of the spine, and the skull. However, the peripheral nervous system is not enclosed by bones and is more susceptible to trauma.

There are three types of nerves that can be damaged, motor nerves, sensory nerves, and autonomic nerves. Motor nerves control muscle movement used for walking, holding things and talking. Sensory nerves allow you to feel things like heat, pressure, or pain from a cut. Autonomic nerves are how they sound, and handle things you don’t notice consciously, like breathing, digestion, heart and glands.

What Causes Nerve Damage?

There are many causes of nerve damage. Your nerves can be damaged from traumatic injuries such as a car accident, infections, and metabolic problems. One of the most common causes is diabetes, which damages the nerves over time due to high blood sugar levels.

Usually nerve damage feels like a stabbing, burning, or tingling pain. When it’s a damaged motor nerve it can be muscle weakness, painful cramps and muscle shrinking. The hands and feet are sensory nerves, so people may be unable to coordinate walking, buttoning up a shirt, or maintaining balance. 

Nerve Pain from Car Accident Injuries

Nerve damage in the neck from a car accident is fairly common. Did you know that nerve damage and pain can be caused by car accidents?  There is ample scientific data that correlates onset of new back and neck pain to motor vehicles accidents.

Many of these improve spontaneously over time but if the symptoms do not improve within three months, it is likely that they can become chronic.  It is best to obtain an MRI soon after the accident especially in patients with more than just a mild back pain.  

During the accident and the traumatic event, the whole body is thrown forward violently and snapped back in the seat forcefully.  This can damage the joints in the back of the spine called facets, the disc between the vertebrae, and it can also traumatize the nerves close to the facets, bone and disc resulting in numbness, tingling and pain, and essentially nerve damage.

Physical injury or trauma is a common cause of nerve damage. Car accidents can compress, or crush nerves in the spinal cord causing pain and possibly difficulty walking depending on the severity.

How long should you be sore after a car accident?

Soreness after a car accident is caused by a large range of factors. Some symptoms could clear up in a few days, while others may take a few weeks. You should consult with a doctor after an accident to make sure pain symptoms aren’t something more serious than a simple ache.

What to do after a car accident?

A specialist doctor can determine where the pain is coming from, and how to best treat your soreness or pain. Pain in the neck after a car accident is common, and it’s possible your nerves are being compressed from whiplash. If the nerve damage is severe enough, and it doesn’t resolve itself in a few weeks, there are treatment options available.

Pain treatment in the form of NSAIDs, or injections at the area of pain are one way to go to treat pain. When it’s more severe a laser surgery that is minimally invasive can solve neck pain or back pain. Because it’s just a needle insertion with an advanced laser instrument it requires no hospital stay, and you can be walking around pain-free the same day.

Nerve Doctors Can Help

What is a neurologist? Well, neurology studies the nervous system, and how to treat disorders such as nerve damage. However, neurologists don’t perform neurosurgery, rather a neurologist will have to refer you to a neurosurgeon. 

Neurosurgeons specialize in diagnosing disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system, and utilizing surgical treatments to resolve issues. Training to become a neurosurgeon is very intensive, and requires four years of pre-med, four years of medical school to achieve M.D. status, one year of internship in general surgery, and five to seven years of a neurosurgery residency program. Additionally, a fellowship can be completed after residency to specialize in a particular area, then neurosurgeons must have ongoing education to stay current with the field of neurosurgery.

With all this training, you can rest assured that neurosurgeons have all the expertise, experience, and sound mind to treat any delicate neurological disorders like nerve damage. Laser Spine Center has top neurosurgeons available to help resolve your pain, and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time.

Author: Brandon Park