Can Car Accidents Cause Peripheral Nerve Damage?

Nerve Damage After Car AccidentEven with the advancement of modern-day technology in cars, like pedestrian detection, blind spot monitors, and motion sensors to alert you if you are too close to another vehicle, accidents still happen.

In fact, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles released statistics stating that there were over 247,000 car crashes in 2020. And of those, more than 105,000 people who were involved in them were injured. It is nearly a 16% decrease from the prior year, but it just proves that car accidents and the injuries people sustain from them are still prevalent in the Charlotte area.

After being in an accident, some people may experience significant injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or back injuries. However, neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, is also very common in car accident victims. Patients may tell doctors that they are experiencing a weird sensation in their hand, arm, knee, or foot—although it can be present in other places, as well. It may be described as a pain, tingling, stabbing, or burning feeling. These are typically signs of nerve damage that happen after one or multiple nerve areas have suffered from trauma from a forceful impact, like a car accident. Neuropathy occurs when nerves become inflamed due to irritation and can become even worse with continuous use of the affected body part.

Nerve damage is one of the most common injuries in car accidents

While whiplash is one of the most common nerve damage injuries that occur from car accidents, that should not take away from how dangerous peripheral nerve damage is when it does happen. More than 20 million people are estimated to have some type of peripheral nerve damage, but that number could be even higher. This type of nerve damage is often misdiagnosed because of its complex combination of symptoms.

In car accidents, this peripheral nerve damage can o occur because of the strong impact that happens when two traveling cars collide. Research shows that car accidents are the leading cause of peripheral nerve injuries; motorcycle accidents are second. Drivers can sustain damage to the hands, arms and collarbone (as well as the wrists, elbows, and shoulders) if one or both of their hands were on the steering wheel at the time of impact and when the airbags deployed. The same is possible for passengers who put their arms out toward the dashboard at the moment of impact. That kind of direct impact to the hands can exert damaging pressure on the nerves. However, injuries can also develop from the pressure of broken bones or slipped discs as well—all of which are common in car accidents.

What are the effects of peripheral nerve damage?

The peripheral nerves run outside of your brain and spinal cord and are classified within three groups:

  • Motor nerves, which control conscious movement of muscles like walking, talking, or holding things.
  • Sensory nerves, that make you feel things like touch or temperature.
  • Autonomic nerves, which control organs that regulate unconscious moves like breathing and heartbeat functions.

These nerves rely on messages that the central nervous system sends in order to make your body move or feel sensations. If these nerves are damaged, the central nervous system is still sending signals, but the peripheral nerves are not able to do what they were asked to or able to recognize those feelings. For example, you may not be able to wiggle your fingers or be able to tell that your feet are cold. Other signs of peripheral nerve damage are:

  • Tingling or numbness
  • Complete loss of feeling
  • Foot drags as you walk
  • Sharp pain that worsens with activity
  • “Electric shock” feelings
  • Imbalance
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular body temperature
  • Heat intolerance
  • Squeezing sensations

Is peripheral nerve damage treatable?

After an accident, it is always important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you feel any sense of tingling, burning, or total loss of feeling in a limb, it could potentially be a sign of peripheral nerve damage. Unfortunately, this type of damage is not reversible since these nerves have a limited capacity to regenerate. However, as long as it is diagnosed and treated promptly, there are ways to stop it from getting even worse. Victims may need the use of surgery, physical therapy, or mobility aids like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Although the treatment will likely be lifelong, these may all help the victim regain some strength and avoid muscle cramping. If peripheral nerve damage is not treated immediately, it can aggravate over time and cause symptoms that are much, much worse.

The effects of peripheral nerve damage can be costly

Whether this type of nerve damage is mild or severe, treatment for it can be expensive and those medical bills add up fast. Plus, if your nerve damage has led to a partial or permanent disability, it can completely change your life. You may not be able to work anymore and provide for your family or you may not be able to enjoy the same activities that you once did before your accident.

If the accident that caused your injuries was not your fault, remember to seek immediate medical care and keep all of your medical records organized and on hand. Having this information will only help you make a stronger case for your car accident claim against the other driver. If you delay treatment, the other party’s insurance may think your injuries are not actually that serious, even if they are.

When you have suffered peripheral nerve damage from a car accident that was not your fault, make sure to reach out to a Charlotte car accident lawyer at Price, Petho & Associates. Our attorneys know how traumatizing a car accident can be for you and your family, and will help demonstrate how your life has changed as a result. We will work together to get your medical bills paid and fight for your emotional pain and suffering because of someone else’s negligence. Call our office or submit our contact form today for a free consultation. We represent clients in Charlotte, Rutherfordton, and Rockingham.