Recognizing Signs of Nerve Damage
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Recognizing Signs of Nerve Damage

Friday, January 20, 2017By Richard Alexander

The human body is a complex biological machine consisting of several different systems that allow us to survive and thrive. One of the most important aspects of our bodies is the nervous system, which serves as an internal communication system of sorts. When the nervous system suffers damage, it can affect us in ways we never imagined. But many of the signs and symptoms of nervous system damage actually make sense when you understand a bit more about the system itself.

Most people know that the nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord. It also includes billions of nerve cells outside the brain that relay messages throughout our bodies and regulate our internal functions. There are three types of nerves in the human body: autonomic, motor, and sensory. Learning about these types of nerves can be helpful in understanding the symptoms suffered by nerve damage victims.

Autonomic nerves power the involuntary aspects of our survival. They regulate functions such as our heart and breathing rates, our digestion, our blood pressure, and our body temperature. When these nerves are damaged, the symptoms affect our involuntary and partially voluntary functions, such as these:

  • digestive system problems, such as bladder and bowel dysfunction;
  • problems with temperature control, such as excessive or inadequate sweating; and

Motor nerves allow us to control our movement, such as smiling or moving our arms or legs. For that reason, when our motor nerves are damaged, we tend to suffer symptoms that affect our movement or that create an inability to move, like these:

  • full or partial paralysis;
  • involuntary twitching; and
  • muscle weakness.

Sensory nerves relay information about our environment to our brain. They collect information about what we see, taste, smell, hear, and touch, including pain. Damage to sensory nerves can produce symptoms like these:

  • an inability to feel pain, numbness, or excessive pain sensitivity;
  • tingling, burning, or prickling; and
  • an inability to sense the position of body parts.

Car accidents are the primary cause of nerve damage, causing about 35 percent of injuries to the nervous system.

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