Pinched nerves are some of the most common, and painful, vehicle accident injuries. Whether a collision is a minor fender bender or a high-speed highway pileup, the resulting pinched nerves can be a debilitating condition.
Causes of Pinched Nerves
Excess pressure from surrounding tendons, cartilage, or muscles can lead to a pinched nerve. Common causes of pinched nerves include:
- Whiplash. Whiplash is the most common rear-end collision injury, and it occurs when the head and neck are rapidly forced back and forth during a vehicle accident. This jerking motion can cause painful pinched nerves in the cervical spine.
- Blunt force trauma. Blunt force trauma sustained in a car wreck can pinch or stretch nerves. These injuries typically occur when a body part strikes a hard surface.
- Herniated disc. Nerves running from the spinal cord down to the arm can be pinched due to a herniated disc in the neck. This typically causes pain or numbness in the skin and muscles on the arms and hands.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. A pinched nerve can occur when a driver grips the steering wheel during a collision, leading to pain and numbness in the hands and fingers.
- Sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the human body, connecting the nervous system to muscles in the back, thighs, legs, and feet. Compression of the sciatic nerve in a vehicle accident can lead to severe lower back and leg pain. The resulting intense pain can make standing, walking, and sleeping nearly impossible.
Symptoms of Pinched Nerves
Disruption of a nerve’s normal function can lead to pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness. Typical signs of a pinched nerve include:
- Numbness, tingling, and burning sensations in the back or limbs
- Sharp, aching, or burning pain
- Muscle pain or weakness in the back, arms, or legs
- Pain radiating from the back into the shoulders, neck, arms, and legs
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Worsening of symptoms during sleep
Diagnosis of Pinched Nerves
Prompt diagnosis of pinched nerves is crucial to avoid long-term damage. If a pinched nerve only persists for a short time, there is typically no permanent harm done. However, if it is allowed to continue due to lack of treatment, the damage may worsen until it becomes permanent. Medical professionals may conduct the following tests to identify pinched nerves:
- Magnetic resonance imaging. An MRI can be used to identify herniated discs that are causing pinched nerves.
- Nerve conduction study. Electrodes placed on the skin can be used to measure electrical nerve impulses as a small current passes through the nerve, identifying nerve damage.
- Electromyography. The doctor inserts electrodes into various muscles to measure their electrical activity, in order to determine if there is any damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
Treatment of Pinched Nerves
Once a pinched nerve has been diagnosed, the doctor will likely recommend rest for the affected area. Depending on the severity of the injury, chiropractic care and physical therapy may provide additional relief. Exercises can be used to strengthen and stretch the affected muscles, alleviating pressure on the nerve. Pain medication can reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief. In the most severe cases, surgery may be necessary to take pressure off the affected nerve.
Get the Help You Need
If you’re experiencing numbness or tingling in the aftermath of a vehicle collision, you may be suffering from a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve should never be ignored, and it’s critically important that you seek medical attention right away. The right physician can determine the source of your pain, provide treatment options, and help you recover from your injuries. You need an advocate who knows how to connect you with an experienced and compassionate doctor, as well as a qualified attorney who can help you receive the compensation you deserve. When you call 763-251-PAIN, we will guide you through the medical and legal car accident maze. We are your #1 resource for medical and financial recovery from Twin Cities vehicle accidents, and we’re here to help!