Your nerves carry signals to and from your brain. When nerves get severed, you can suffer paralysis and loss of sensation. If they remain intact but damaged, you can experience a range of painful and disabling symptoms.
The effects of nerve damage can cause you to lose your ability to work, perform household tasks, or even engage in the hobbies you enjoy. Your quality of life may suffer, and you may spend enormous sums of money on treatment and therapy to try to compensate for your functional losses.
If you sustained nerve damage due to an accident, it is essential to learn more about this type of injury and how you may be able to seek compensation for it.
What Is the Function of Your Nervous System?
Your nervous system includes your brain and your nerves.
The central nervous system (CNS) coordinates the brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord connects your brain to your body below your neck. It runs through the spinal canal in your back. You can think of the CNS as the root and trunk of your nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system (PNS) includes everything connected to the CNS, including:
As the spinal cord passes through the spine, a pair of nerve roots branches from it at each vertebra. These nerve roots act as a junction for all the nerve signals running to and from a particular body region. The nerve roots for your right and left hands branch from the spinal cord in your neck.
The nerve roots further branch into peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves run to nerve endings in the muscles, organs, and skin. Peripheral nerves are the endpoints that pick up sensory signals and deliver control signals.
The head, upper neck, and face do not connect to the spinal cord. Instead, they connect directly to the brain through the cranial nerves.
These nerves help the body with many functions, including:
- Chewing and swallowing
- Forming facial expressions
- Sending signals to the brain from the eyes, tongue, nose, and ears
The cranial nerves also connect to nerve endings in the face and scalp to detect touch sensations.
What Can Cause Nerve Damage?
Nerves function like wires. Each nerve cell must sit close to another nerve cell to transmit a signal. If an injury alters the distance between nerve cells, the nerve sends errant signals or drops them altogether.
When doctors talk about “nerve damage,” they usually refer to peripheral nerve damage or peripheral neuropathy. This allows doctors to distinguish nerve damage from spinal cord injuries and brain injuries.
Peripheral nerve damage can happen due to disease or trauma. Some types of trauma that can injure a nerve include:
A severed nerve cannot carry nerve signals. As a result, you can lose both motor control and sensation below the injury site.
Lacerated nerves can happen when a foreign object lacerates deep into your soft tissues. Thus, you could lacerate a nerve in a car accident when your elbow breaks the window and glass shards slice into your arm.
You can also sever a nerve when you fracture a bone, and the jagged end of the bone tears the nerve. Thus, you could experience a lacerated nerve in a fall in which you broke your arm even though you had no open wounds.
Traction happens when a nerve gets pulled. When a nerve gets stretched, the nerve cells get damaged and separated. As a result, they misfire or drop signals.
One of the most common types of traction nerve damage happens due to medical malpractice. If a doctor pulls too hard on a baby’s arm during delivery, they can stretch the child’s brachial plexus, causing Erb’s palsy. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy include numbness and paralysis in the arm and shoulder.
When nerves get compressed, they become irritated and inflamed. They produce errant signals, such as pain sensations in healthy body parts. For example, if you herniate a disc in your neck, it can press on the nerve root of your arm. You could experience pain in your arm, even though you did not injure it.
Burns destroy body tissue. When you suffer third-degree burns, the burn has destroyed the full thickness of the skin and reached the nerves and connective tissue beneath it. This means that third-degree burns produce little or no pain compared to less severe burns. The nerve endings that would have produced pain signals were destroyed.
What Are Some Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
You have three types of nerves in your body. These nerves perform different functions. Your symptoms will depend on which nerve functions your injury disrupted.
Some examples include:
Your body uses motor signals to control muscles. These signals tell your muscles when to contract and relax.
When you damage motor nerves, you will experience:
- Muscle spasms
For example, if you damage the cranial nerves that carry motor signals, you might lose the ability to make facial expressions.
Sensory signals carry information to your brain.
Sensory nerve damage causes:
- Loss of vision, hearing, smell, or taste
Your brain uses sensory signals to detect pressure, temperature, and texture. A loss of sensation can endanger you since your brain does not receive these signals.
Autonomic signals get generated by the brain all the time without any conscious thought.
Nerve damage to an autonomic nerve can cause:
- Heart arrhythmia
- Difficulty sweating or excessive sweating
- High or low blood pressure
Bladder and bowel control also uses a combination of automatic signals and motor signals.
What Kinds of Compensation Can You Pursue for Nerve Damage in Texas?
If someone else’s negligence caused your nerve damage, you may be able to seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses. Your economic damages include your medical bills and lost income. Your non-economic damages cover pain and suffering.
Nerve damage often produces permanent disabilities that impair your ability to work or enjoy life. With a proven track record spanning over 25 years, the compassionate Dallas personal injury lawyers at the Jay Murray Personal Injury Lawyers can take the burden of dealing with your losses off your shoulders while you focus on recovering.