If you’ve been in a car accident recently and are experiencing any tingling or numbness, these are considered signs and symptoms of nerve issues. Most people associate car accidents with injuries like broken bones, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, many injuries can happen internally and should be taken very seriously. While scrapes and bruises are easy to see, other car accident injuries are less obvious, which is why you should see a doctor after a car accident, no matter how minor you think your injuries are. Your Atlanta orthopedic doctor can assess you for any signs or symptoms of a more serious issue that could get worse if left untreated, like nerve damage.
Causes of Nerve Damage from a Car Accident
Compression, inflammation, and internal injuries can press against your nerves and lead to serious nerve damage. Here are examples of car accident injuries and how they can cause nerve damage:
Whiplash is the most common car accident injury because of how your head and neck are vulnerable to the force of the accident. While the rest of your body is better restrained by the seat belt and airbags if they deploy, your head and neck can really get shaken up. When the whiplash happens, the muscles in your neck can stretch and strain out of their usual range of motion, which can cause pain and discomfort. Any damage to the spine in your neck or inflammation of your torn neck muscles can put pressure on nearby nerves. Nerves can become pinched or compressed, which can damage their functioning.
A herniated disc can occur in your neck with whiplash, or in your back due to the twisting or jostling of your body in a serious car accident. A herniated disc is sometimes also referred to as a slipped disc, which refers to the discs that separate the vertebrae in your spine slipping or being forced out of place. A properly functioning disc helps to absorb the shock and daily wear and tear between your vertebrae. If you experience a herniated disc, the disc can put pressure on a nerve or nerves nearby and damage them.
Similar to whiplash and herniated discs, a pinched nerve is another type of car injury accident that is not visible but can lead to nerve damage, especially if left untreated. A pinched nerve can occur for a number of reasons, including whiplash and herniated discs. Additionally, a pinched nerve can happen because of inflammation in your body. Inflammation can occur in various parts of the body after a car accident as your muscles and soft tissues react to the trauma. This inflammation can cause a pinched nerve and lead to nerve damage if the nerve’s functionality is disrupted.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage After a Car Accident
The most common symptoms of nerve damage are shooting or radiating pain, numbness, tingling or prickling, and muscle weakness. Nerve damage is most common in and around the spine, which is where many car accident injuries can occur. Nerve damage is also common in the arms. While it is possible for a pinched nerve to resolve on its own, more serious injuries that occur with car accident injuries should be addressed as soon as possible.
Whenever your nerves are pinched, compressed, or otherwise experience damage for too long, it can lead to nerve damage. Other symptoms of nerve damage after a car accident can include muscle spasms, sensitivity, and even burning sensations. Any pain or discomfort you notice that seems out of the ordinary after a car accident should be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Nerve Damage
Your team of Atlanta orthopedic doctors can help diagnose and treat all types of nerve damage that may occur from a car accident. Injuries that affect your nerves don’t always cause lasting nerve damage, especially when they are caught early. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and may also want to utilize diagnostic tools to help test your reflexes, sensations, strength, and even your coordination. Neurological exams test your nerve function and electrical activity in your muscles and how they respond to stimuli. An MRI or CT scan may also be recommended to help rule out any internal injuries. Once your doctor has determined the diagnosis, they will be able to provide you with an individualized treatment plan to address your specific nerve damage.
AICA Orthopedics has multiple locations across metro Atlanta to help anyone who has been in a car accident. Our team of Atlanta orthopedic doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, and physical therapists work together to provide diagnostic and treatment options for car accident victims so you can experience lasting relief from your injuries and get back on the road to recovery.