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Damage to the nerves is extremely serious because the nervous system controls so many functions of the body. From sensing temperature to controlling muscle movement to breathing, these aspects are not only important, but vital.
There are three types of nerves which make up the nervous system: autonomic nerves, motor nerves, and sensory nerves. Autonomic nerves control the involuntary functions of the body, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Motor nerves carry information from the brain through the spinal cord to the muscles and control their movement. Lastly, sensory nerves carry messages from the skin back to the brain, so that the person knows if they felt pain, heat, or coldness. With this said, even mild nerve damage can bring with it life-altering consequences.
Nerves are not only located in the brain and spinal cord, but throughout the body as well. Depending on which type of nerve was damaged, the symptoms which can result will vary. When the autonomic nerves suffer damage, the results can include hyperhidrosis or anhidrosis (sweating too much or too little), bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and dry eyes and mouth. When the motor nerves are affected, it could lead to weakness in the muscles, twitching, or even paralysis. Chronic pain, numbness, burning, and more could result from damage to the sensory nerves. In cases of more widespread damage, all three types of nerves could be affected.
How does nerve damage occur? In some cases, it is the result of illnesses such as autoimmune disease, cancer, diabetes, or motor neuron diseases. This, however, is not always the case. Sometimes a patient may be left dealing with nerve damage because of a surgical error on the part of a medical doctor. As surgical procedures often occur in close proximity to nerves, nerve damage is a constant risk.
There have been cases where a surgeon accidently slices a nerve during surgery which leads to permanent complications. However, even when a surgical instrument rubs against a nerve, this could be enough to lead to inflammation and nerve damage.
An error in the administration of any type of anesthesia could also lead to nerve damage. Local anesthesia is administered through a syringe and any contact between the needle and a nerve could result in nerve damage. Regional anesthesia is injected into the spinal column which contains a high number of nerves very close together. If any of these nerves are damaged from an error in administering the anesthesia, the brain’s ability to communicate with the lower half of the body could be affected. Lastly, general anesthesia puts the patient completely to sleep. If they are lying in an uncomfortable position with pressure on certain parts of the body, the result could be a pinched nerve.
An example of this was the case of a 32-year-old math professor in New York. He went into a long operation on his left knee, but when he woke up from surgery his right knee was deformed and painful. He has to live with chronic pain all because the surgeons did not reposition his knee during the long procedure.
It is also important to remember that there are some drugs whose side effects can include damage to the nerves. Drugs which are used to treat HIV or chemotherapy drugs can either lead to lasting pain in the nerves or permanent damage. If your doctor failed to warn you of the possible devastating side effects or did not properly monitor you while you were undergoing treatment, you could have a medical malpractice case. There are also some toxic materials which, if accidently ingested, could result in nerve damage.
Whatever your specific situation, if you were the victim of nerve damage, you should contact our team at the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, PC as soon as possible. Our New York medical malpractice attorneys understand how devastating these cases can be and so will do everything in our power to fight for you and your best interests. Although filing a lawsuit may not restore you back to full health, it could ensure that the negligent physician is held accountable for their error.