Workers in North Carolina and Virginia can suffer nerve damage from a single incident or from a culmination of repetitive motion stresses. Nerve injuries can be extremely painful because they’re the part of the body that communicates with the brain and transmits messages that can include pain. Nerve damage can cause loss of motion. In extremely severe cases, nerve injuries can lead to partial or full paralysis.
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our workers’ compensation lawyers work with neurologists, neurosurgeons, and other doctors who understand how to diagnose and treat nerve pain. Our lawyer works to show employees suffered nerve damage due to their job, that the nerve injuries prevent them from working, and the type of medical care they need to treat their nerve damage. We demand that your employer pay all your medical bills, your temporary disability benefits, and any permanent disability benefits.
Peripheral nerve damage
Peripheral nerves send messages from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. These nerves help you sense that your body is cold and help you walk. The symptoms of peripheral nerve damage depend on which nerve fibers are damaged:
- Motor nerves. These nerves regulate the muscles that you have conscious control over – such as the muscles you need to walk, talk and hold objects. Symptoms of damage to these nerves include weak muscles, uncontrollable twitching of the muscles, and painful cramps.
- Sensory nerves. These nerves help employees experience pain, temperature, and touch. Common symptoms include tingling or numbness in the feet or hands. Workers with this type of nerve damage “may have trouble sensing pain or changes in temperature, walking, keeping your balance with your eyes closed, or fastening buttons.” Type I Diabetes can cause peripheral nerve damage over time.
- Autonomic nerves. These nerves regulate non-conscious activities such as “breathing, heart and thyroid function, and digesting food.” Some of the symptoms include blood pressure changes, excess sweating, an inability to tolerate heat, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
How is peripheral nerve damage diagnosed?
Peripheral nerve damage is diagnosed through a physical examination and a neurological examination. Diagnostic tests include:
- An electromyography (EMG). This test uses a thin-needle electrode that is inserted into the muscle. It records your muscle’s electrical activity at rest and in motion. “Reduced muscle activity can indicate nerve injury.”
- A nerve conduction study. Here, electrodes are placed at two points to measure how well “electrical signals pass through the nerves.” If the signal is slower than usual, then the neurologist will state that there is a positive result that may be indicative of damage to the nerve.
- An MRI. This test uses a magnetic field and radio waves to show specific images of areas of your body that are affected by damage or which body parts may be causing interference with your nerve’s ability to transmit signals, such as a herniated spinal disc pressing on a nerve.
- Ultrasound. This test uses “high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed images of the area affected by nerve damage.”
Nerves may be compressed (usually treated by reducing the pressure on the nerve), stretched, or torn. Stretched and torn nerves often require surgery.
What are the treatments for peripheral nerve damage?
The treatments for nerve damage depend on the severity of the damage and other factors. Nerves that aren’t cut have a chance to heal. If the nerve is completely cut, a full recovery may be difficult. Nerves that aren’t fully severed do usually recover – over a matter of months or years. Medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help. Other medications may treat insomnia, depression, and seizures.
Some injured employees may need corticosteroid injections for pain relief. Many workers benefit from physical therapy to prevent stiffness and restore function.
For some workers, surgery may be necessary. Surgeons may work to free a nerve from a scar or pressure such as in carpal tunnel syndrome or removal of herniated spinal disc material from exerting pressure on the nerve. Your physician may repair the nerve (by removing a damaged section and reconnecting the remaining nerve to healthy nerve ends) or use a nerve graft (implanting a section of a nerve from another part of your body). These procedures can help your nerves regrow.
Surgery may also be used “to restore function to critical muscles by transferring tendons from one muscle to another.” Treatments used to restore function to the affected muscles include braces or splints, electrical stimulators, physical therapy (exercises to keep affected joints and muscles active), and exercise
The treatments for other types of nerve damage vary.
What types of workplace accidents cause nerve damage?
Fault is generally not an issue in North Carolina and Virginia worker’s compensation cases. If you are injured while working for your employer, regardless of how the accident happened, you should seek workers’ compensation benefits.
Some of the reasons nerve damage occurs include:
- Car, truck, and other types of vehicle accidents. Vehicle accidents may also cause spinal cord damage, or damage to cervical or lumbar discs, which can, in turn cause damage to the spinal cord or nerves branching out from the spinal cord.
- Electrocution. Electric shock requires immediate neurological care.
- Crush injuries. Many workers in manufacturing and construction suffer nerve and other types of damage when the work is crushed between several objects.
- Falls from heights and falls from level. Workers in construction, landscape, utility repair, and other outdoor jobs have a high risk of falling which can cause spinal cord injuries and nerve damage.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. This and other repetitive stress injuries cause nerve damage over time.
What are some of the common Nerve Injuries that we see in Workers Compensation Claims?
Sciatica– This typically occurs when a herniated disc leaks out and is pressing on the spinal cord or the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord in the lumbar spine or back. This can cause pressure or even damage to the spinal cord or the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. Depending on which nerves are being compressed, this often results in what is described as “shooting” pains going into the buttocks, the back of one or both legs, even into one or both feet. In addition, there is often a numbness and tingling sensation, sometimes a stabbing or burning sensation in those same areas. Sciatica can also result from foraminal stenosis, which is a tightening of the bony holes where the spinal cord branches out and heads down the buttocks and leg. In its most severe forms, there can be a weakening, and even buckling of one or both legs due to the pressure on the nerve.
Surgery in the form of a lumbar laminectomy, foraminotomy, and/or a spinal fusion may become necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to prevent additional damage.
Cervical Radiculopathy– This is the same process that goes on in the lumbar spine with sciatica, but in the cervical spine or neck. In fact, sciatica is merely a specific form of radiculopathy. Symptoms that occur with the cervical or neck type can include shooting pains and/or weakness and/or numbness and tingling into the arms hands, and fingers. As with the lumbar spine, it is typically caused by a herniated disc, but can also be a result of foraminal stenosis a tightening of the bony holes where the spinal cord branches out and innervates the arms, hands, and fingers.
Again, surgery in the form of a cervical laminectomy, foraminotomy, and/or a spinal fusion may become necessary to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to prevent additional damage.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This occurs when pressure exerts on the median nerve and tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel (a passage in your wrist area.) You feel the injury as you flex your fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain, numbness and tingling, even with minor swelling. If conservative measures to treat the syndrome fail then surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the median nerve.
What workers’ compensation benefits can I claim?
If your spine, limbs, hands, feet, or any other part of your body has nerve damage, you will likely need emergency room care and long-term rehabilitative care. Many workers require surgery. Generally, these workers are entitled to demand that their employer pay:
- All your related medical bills. This includes more than just the cost to maximize health. Even when your condition stabilizes, many workers need additional medical help to manage their pain and ensure their condition doesn’t worsen. If your claim is accepted by the workers compensation carrier, the obligation of the insurance company to treat your work injuries is a lifetime obligation, unless you settle your claim.
- A portion of your lost wages. Generally, workers are entitled to approximately 2/3rds of their average weekly wages until they reach the point of medical improvement. If the injured worker is unable to return to his or her pre-injury job due to physical restrictions related to the work injury, that worker would potentially be entitled to up to 500 weeks of ongoing weekly checks. Those checks would continue until such time as the injured worker returns to work, dies, is released to full duty, or settles his or her claim.
At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation attorney has more than 30 years of experience and a record if impressive settlements on behalf of injured employees. We work to show you qualify for worker’s compensation benefits, to show your nerve injuries prevent you from working, and to show how much long-term medical help you will need. We’ve helped thousands of employees obtain strong recoveries. To assert your workers’ compensation rights, call lawyer Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or use my online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
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