Nerve damage can significantly impact every aspect of a person’s life. It can limit their range of motion and hinder their ability to breathe. While some nerve damage is reversible and can be treated, the more severe the damage, the greater the likelihood that the damage will be permanent. In all cases, known or suspected nerve damage must be evaluated by qualified medical personnel at the earliest possible opportunity to prevent a further worsening of the injury.
Common Causes of Nerve Damage
Nerve damage can occur for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Lacerations/Cuts, such as those caused by saws and other cutting instruments.
- Gunshots and other wounds that cause deep punctures that can severe nerve tissue.
- Stretch/Traction injuries, such as those experienced while overexerting muscle tissue and suffering a strain/sprain.
- Compression injuries which occur when tissue is compressed either through distortion or application of weight for either short or extended periods of time.
- Electrical injuries caused by either short or prolonged exposure to electrical current.
Damage by Degree
Using the Sunderland Classification System, nerve damage may be classified as minor or severe depending on the extent the nerves are impaired. A personal injury lawyer can help recover damages for both short or long-term injuries whether they cause temporary or permanent disruption to a patient’s life and ability to work.
Fifth-Degree: The most severe level of damage, fifth-degree nerve injuries involve extensive damage of the nerve sheath and/or all of the nerve. These injuries are often permanent and surgical procedures will have minimal to no benefit.
Fourth-Degree: Fourth-degree injuries cause significant disruption to nerve function. These are caused when dense scar tissue builds up within the nerve and blocks normal function. Surgical recovery of nerve function following a fourth-degree injury is rare and exceedingly long.
Third -Degree: Third-degree injuries occur when the axons and the supporting structure inside the nerve are damaged. Patients can recover from third-degree nerve injuries, however, those that do will do so only after extensive surgical procedures.
Second-Degree: These injuries occur when continuity is lost between the axons within the nerve which disrupts the electrical flow within the nerve. These injuries often heal themselves without the need for surgical intervention. Those that do require treatment often require nothing more than physical therapy.
First-Degree: The least severe injuries, these are fully reversible blockages in conduction that occur at the site of the injury. First-degree injuries usually clear up without treatment within a few hours to a few weeks.