Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy
If you’re involved in a car accident and your children are present in the vehicle at the time, your first instinct is probably to check if they are safe and well. Other than surface-level injuries and signs of trauma, however, there may also be deeper problems that are much more difficult to detect, requiring more than just a cursory glance. One of these problems is peripheral neuropathy, which can affect the whole body following an accident and is a common issue adults experience following a significant car accident. However, peripheral neuropathy is much less common in pediatric patients.
As a result, not every doctor taking care of your child may be familiar with neuropathic pain following pediatric trauma or its treatment. If you think your child is suffering from a peripheral neuropathy, you may need to be prepared to raise the issue with your doctors.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
When a person goes through a car accident, damage is to the peripheral nervous system, which includes all of the nerves that carry signals between your brain and all of the other parts of your body, from your fingers to your toes, can occur due to trauma. If you or your child require surgery following your car accident, surgery can also lead to a peripheral neuropathy.
The Nervous System
The nervous system, which consists of sensory, motor and autonomic nerves, is particularly vulnerable because these nerves can be compressed and damaged due to an impact or injury. Peripheral neuropathy is the condition that results when nerve cells are damaged or destroyed in this way, though it can also arise due to hereditary or environmental factors. Damage to the nerve fibers results in the symptoms that you or your child experience.
What are the Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?
People who experience peripheral neuropathy exhibit a wide range of symptoms, depending on which nerves are affected. You experience symptoms in the parts of the body where the nerves go. For example, nerves in the neck are responsible for the feeling in your hands. As a result, a neck injury may cause symptoms in the hand rather than in the neck. This is often refered to as referred pain.
When sensory nerves are damaged, people feel tingling, numbness, pain, loss of coordination or reflexes, or a burning sensation. Damage to motor neurons causes muscle weakness or twitching, difficulty moving, cramps, spasms, loss of muscle tone or dexterity, and unexpected falls. Finally, those with autonomic neuropathy can experience abnormal blood pressure, decreased sweating, problems urinating, sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, weight loss, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and digestion problems.
How is Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosed?
If you notice your child displaying any of the symptoms mentioned above, immediately go to the doctor for a physical examination. The doctor may then refer you to a nerve specialist who can conduct a number of tests, from a nerve conduction study (NCS) to needle electromyography (EMG), to test nerve responses and confirm the diagnosis. The main treatment options for trauma-based neuropathy are medicines to control the pain, as well as physical therapy to restore function and surgery to treat the underlying causes of the condition. If bones (for example the spine) are impinging on the nerves sometimes surgery is ultimately needed.
Related Articles by Ed Smith:
- Neuropathic Pain
- Chronic Pain
- Frequently Asked Auto Accident Questions
- Pediatric Trauma
- Understanding the Full Scope of Chronic Pain
Peripheral Neuropathy Injury Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury attorney. If you or your child has been seriously injured because of someone else’s negligence, please call me today at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Or, call me at (800) 404-5400 toll free. Let’s discuss the details of your case and see what options are available to you.
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