Can Car Accidents or Other Trauma Cause Nerve Damage?
About the Peripheral Nervous System
The human nervous system has two parts, the first part being 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 are not enclosed by bones and are 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 car accidents, sports injuries and pressure from adjacent tissue or by diseases such as diabetes, metabolic problems and or inflammation.
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 Trauma, Sports Injury or Car Accident Injuries
Did you know that nerve damage and pain can be caused by trauma? Spine injury from traumatic injury is fairly common. There is ample scientific data that correlates onset of new back and neck pain to a traumatic event. 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 open MRI early specially 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.
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 spine injury?
A specialist physician like a neurosurgeon can determine where the pain is coming from, and how to best treat your soreness or pain. Pain in the neck after an injury (sports injury, car accidents, trauma) is common, and it’s possible your nerves are being compressed from whiplash injury. 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 oral NSAIDS, or injections at the area of pain are one way to treat pain.
When there is disc injury, laser surgery may help alleviate back or neck pain. Laser surgery is a minimally invasive (with or without endoscopy) that requires no hospital stay, and you can walk out 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, neurologist 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 six to seven years of a neurosurgery residency program (about 15 years of education after high school). 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. As a patient, you have to be sure that your treating physician is an actual surgeon (not pain management who represents himself or herself as a surgeon).
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 well trained neurosurgeons that help resolve your pain, and get you back to feeling like yourself in no time.