Nerves carry signals between your brain and your body. These signals control everything from your breathing to the finger scratching your ear. They also send your brain information about the world around you through your senses.
Nerve damage can interfere with your ability to control your body and receive sensory information. You could even develop chronic pain and lose the dexterity you need to work and perform your daily activities.
Learn more about nerve damage and the compensation you can seek for its effects.
Table of Contents
What Does Your Nervous System Do?
Your brain controls your nervous system. Your nervous system, in turn, controls every muscle and organ in your body. It also collects information from your sensory organs so that your brain can decide how to control your body.
Some of these controls are automatic. If your brain senses an increase in body temperature, it triggers sweating or shivering without any conscious thought on your part.
Other controls are voluntary. You see a ball flying toward you and you decide to raise your arm and open your hand to catch it.
Your brain connects to two sets of nerves. The cranial nerves run from your brain to your head. These nerves control your facial expressions, eye movements, swallowing, and other functions in your head and face.
The spinal cord runs from your brain to your body. These nerves control everything below your neck. Everything your body does, from breathing to wiggling your toes, starts as a signal sent from the brain down the spinal cord.
Nerve roots branch out from your spinal cord at each vertebra. These nerve roots carry the nerve signals for a region of your body. For example, one nerve root carries all the nerve signals for your right shoulder and arm.
Nerve roots further branch into peripheral nerves. These peripheral nerves run to individual muscles and organs to control their function and gather sensory information from them.
The nerves carry these signals through a combination of electricity and chemistry. Nerve cells communicate with each other using chemical ions. These charged molecules transport electrical signals from cell to cell.
How Do Nerve Injuries Happen?
Nerve injuries can result from disease or trauma. Some diseases, like diabetes, cause chemical changes in your body that destroy nerves or interfere with their ability to carry nerve signals.
Trauma can sever or pinch nerves. When nerves get severed, they cannot carry nerve signals. Just as you can stop a wire from carrying a signal by cutting it, your nerves will stop carrying nerve signals when they get severed.
Pressure on the nerve causes nerve inflammation. Inflamed nerves send pain signals. Inflammation also triggers chemical changes in your cells. These chemical changes can alter the way the compressed nerve carries nerve signals.
Nerve compression will not necessarily stop nerve signals. Instead, signals may get delayed, lost, or scrambled.
Nerve compression can also cause nerve signals to misfire. Research suggests that chemical changes due to inflammation can make your nerve cells more sensitive and excitable. This could result in your body feeling sensations, like buzzing or burning, despite the fact there’s no object present to create those sensations.
Nerve compression can happen in a few ways, including those listed below.
If part of your body gets pushed out of place, the body part can compress nerves. For example, a fractured bone can shift its position, compressing and tearing nearby nerves.
One of the most serious nerve injuries happens when you fracture a vertebra. The bone fragments dislocate into your spinal canal. These fragments can sever or compress nerves in your spinal cord, leading to paralysis and other health issues.
An injury can cause your body tissues to swell. This swelling can press on nerves, leading to inflammation.
Repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome cause ligaments and tendons to swell. These swollen tissues press on nearby nerves, causing them to misfire.
What Are the Symptoms of Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage can cause a range of symptoms. Since nerves control all body functions, you might even experience symptoms that seem unrelated to your original injury. Consequently, after a fall or car accident, nerve damage might leave you feeling cold or hot all the time.
Nerves carry three types of signals. The symptoms you experience will depend on which signals get disrupted. These signals include the following.
Autonomic signals control your involuntary functions like digestion and circulation.
Symptoms of damage to autonomic nerves include:
- High or low blood pressure
- Inability to sweat
- Rapid or slow heart rate
- Sexual dysfunction
Bowel and bladder control require voluntary and involuntary nerve signals. Nerve damage that interferes with either type of signal can disrupt your ability to control these functions.
Motor signals move your muscles.
Symptoms of damage to motor nerves include:
- Muscle weakness
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of fine dexterity
Motor control symptoms can interfere with your ability to work. They can also prevent you from performing daily activities like driving, dressing, and showering.
Sensory signals carry information from your body to your brain.
Symptoms of damage to your sensory nerves include:
- Loss of sensitivity to hot or cold
- Blindness or blurry vision
- Loss of balance
When you experience sensory disruptions in a limb, doctors may diagnose you with peripheral neuropathy. Although peripheral neuropathy often results from disease, it can also happen after an injury, such as a fractured hip in a slip and fall accident.
What Compensation Can I Seek for Nerve Damage?
When nerve damage results from an injury caused by someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation. This compensation covers both your economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will include your past and future medical expenses and lost income. When you suffer from nerve damage, you may need extensive physical therapy to recover your nerve functions. You may also need medication to control nerve inflammation.
But some effects may never go away. Non-economic damages cover the pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life that result from your injuries.
Contact a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
Nerve damage can cause ongoing symptoms that can interfere with your work, daily activities, and enjoyment of life. As a result, your nerve damage could entitle you to substantial compensation.
To learn about the compensation you can seek for your nerve damage, contact the attorneys at William G. Kolodner Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a Baltimore personal injury lawyer.