Nerve damage from cuts, bites and extreme pressure is something which is not often considered when thinking about possibly injuries that can be suffered at work or in general day to day life. Nerve damage is a potential consequence of being cut, bitten, or subjected to extreme pressure on any part of the body. Nerve damage can be life changing, though modern surgeons do have the ability to repair nerves, this is not always guaranteed, and ideally steps should be taken if there is a risk to avoid the damage from occurring in the first place. Following nerve damage a long period of rehabilitation may be required.
Protecting against nerve damage
These kind of injuries can be reduced and controlled through wearing appropriate protective clothing. Protection from cuts, bites and extreme pressure.. The pressure from bites is something which is hard to defend from, and padding or harder materials are often the most effective way to defend against extreme pressure. Protecting from cuts and skin perforation is often the most important steps to take, as cuts have the potentially to cause the most serious nerve damage, especially when the nerves or fibers are totally severed.
What are nerves?
Nerves are essentially the wiring system which carried messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Nerves are like a cable wrapped in insulation. There is an outer layer of tissue which forms a protective cover around the nerve. This like the insulation surrounding man many made wires, for example speaker cable. A nerve is made from millions of individual fibres which are grouped in bundles within the protective covering.
The effects of nerve damage
The effects of nerve damage vary depending on which nerves have been damaged. Types of nerve include Motor nerves which carry messages from the brain to muscles, which then makes the body move. Damage to Motor nerves can lead to serious complications, disabling muscles. Then there are the Sensory nerves, which carry messages to the brain from different parts of the body to and signal pain, pressure, and temperature. They are very useful, though not always essential, and sometimes those nerves can be temporarily damaged, or total loss of function in certain areas can occur. You may not be able to feel the pain etc in a certain area if the Sensory nerves are damaged, though the Motor nerves may continue to function. While the individual axon (nerve fiber) carries only one type of message, either motor or sensory, most nerves in the body are made up of both.
How nerves are damaged
Nerves are fragile and can be damaged, sometimes beyond repair, by pressure, stretching, and cutting. Pressure and stretching injuries can cause the fibers which carry the information to break, and this stops the nerve from working. The insulating cover does not need to be broken, should the pressure be sufficient serious damage can still occur.
When the nerve is cut, and both nerve and insulation broken, the injury can stop the transmission of vital signals to and from the brain, which can lead to muscles not working, and loss of feeling in the area controlled by the damaged nerve.
If nerve fibers are broken, the end of the fiber furthest away from the brain dies. If the insulation stays intact, empty tubes are left which used to carry the nerve fibers.
Recovering from Nerve Damage
The fibers closest to the brain do not die. The human body is remarkable and after some time, things can begin to heal. If the insulation was not cut, the nerve fibers may grow down the empty tubes until reaching a muscle or sensory receptor. If both the nerve and insulation have been cut and the nerve is not fixed, the growing nerve fibers may grow into a ball at the end of the cut, forming a nerve scar called a ‘neuroma’. A neuroma can be painful and cause an electrical feeling when touched. Urgent medical attention should always be sought if there is suspected nerve damage.
Nerve damage is a terrible and debilitating injury, which can lead to long-term discomfort. Much can be done to reduce the risk of nerve damage, essentially protection from cuts and bites is needed, and sometimes protection from extreme pressure which can also cause damage. Many workers wear protective sleeves and clothing to protect against these kinds of injuries. Body armour also reduces the chance of nerve damage. Protection used is linked to the risk, and the higher the risk, the more protection may be needed.