Nerve damage or a nerve injury from your work can significantly affect your ability to earn income, perform daily tasks and function in social settings. While accidents and injury are a part of the job, nerve damage can last for the rest of your life.
Keep reading to learn more about what causes occupational nerve injuries, their symptoms and how healthcare specialists treat them.
Causes of Nerve Damage
Nerve damage can come from a variety of causes. Occupational nerve injuries usually occur from one of these incidents:
- Sudden traumatic injury, like a fall or collision, can pinch or tear a nerve.
- Repetitive motion, like typing or moving boxes, can wear down on nerves in the overused of your body.
- Long-term exposure to heavy and toxic metals, like lead or mercury, can negatively affect your nervous system.
- A severe infection can cause damage to your nervous system. Lyme disease, hepatitis B and C, or Transverse Myelitis can result from a vaccine or infection. If you receive a vaccine that is required by your employer, and you have a severe reaction, which is very rare, then it can be a compensable Workers’ Compensation injury.
How Are Nerves Damaged?
Harvard Health Publishing’s article, “When Nerves Get Damaged,” illustrates how the structure of our bodies’ nervous system is like a set of wires that run throughout our body. A myelin sheath, which acts as the insulation, protects the inner nerve, called an axon, which is like a live wire that sends information to different parts of the body. Gradual nerve damage occurs when the internal nerve is exposed and directly affected, causing pain or discomfort.
Severe and irreversible damage usually results from sudden tearing, stretching or bruising of the nerve. It can result in paralysis or loss of feeling in the affected area. Less severe nerve damage may come from compressing or pinching the nerve, which may be easier to treat.
Symptoms of Nerve Damage
Signs of nerve damage vary case by case. Some effects are immediately noticeable. However, nerve damage in your extremities, like peripheral neuropathy, can be more understated. Here are some symptoms you may experience:
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing or burning pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Pain in activities that shouldn’t cause pain
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness
Treatment for Nerve Damage
Healthcare specialists treat nerve damage differently depending on the severity of the case. There are several methods that your doctor will prescribe, depending on the type of injury you sustained.
For less severe cases of nerve damage, your doctor may prescribe pain medication or antidepressants. Nerve damage patients use physical therapy to prevent stiffness and bring the affected area back to full strength.
In more severe cases, the injured area may require surgery for a full recovery. If the nerve is completely damaged, the surgeon may remove the damaged portion of the nerve and graft in a healthy one.
Due to the nervous system’s complexity and sensitivity, there isn’t a sure way to repair and treat these injuries. Your doctor will try to find the most effective treatment for the damage.
Workers’ Compensation for Nerve Damage
If you have nerve damage from a work-related injury, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation and temporary or permanent disability benefits. If the damage is severe enough, you may not be able to perform your job like you once did.
Filing for workers’ compensation can be a tricky process, especially with an injury as complex as peripheral neuropathy or other forms of nerve damage. Consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is always an excellent way to be thorough in filing your claim.
Here are a few steps on how to be as comprehensive as possible in your claim:
- Immediately seek medical attention. A severe injury will make this step clear, but nagging or annoying pains may lead you to believe you can fight through nerve damage. However, shrugging off an injury to your nerves can lead to more damage if it isn’t treated.
- Document everything. Take notes of the accident that caused your symptoms, or other ways you could have received nerve damage from your job. Keep all of your healthcare specialist’s notes and make sure to write down any meetings you had with your employer or your employer’s workers’ comp insurance adjuster.
- Speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer. An experienced, knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to help you understand if the compensation you will receive is fair for your lost income and medical bills.
If you have experienced nerve damage from your job, don’t go through the workers’ compensation process alone. Contact a lawyer from Tolbert Beadle today to see if we can help get you the compensation you deserve.