Traumatic Injuries Can Cause Peripheral Neuropathy

If you’ve been in an accident recently and noticed tingling in your hands and feet, burning sensations, numbness, or pain, you may have peripheral neuropathy. These symptoms are common after trauma but can be distressing. The real question is what to do about them now. To understand what your path to recovery looks like, it is important to understand the condition.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Your brain controls your body using a vast network of tiny nerves which carry messages between the brain and other body structures. These nerves collect sensory information, such as hot, cold, pressure, and pain, and send it back to the brain. The brain then interprets these signals and responds.

Say you set your hand on a hot stove. The nerves tell the brain you’re in pain, and you yank your hand away from the heat almost before your conscious mind registers your injury. Your subconscious mind is hardwired to protect you from harm.

The nerves travel from your brain down through the spinal column and out to your organs, bones, and skin. Nerves extending away from the spinal column to other body parts are peripheral nerves. Neuropathy means nerve damage. Therefore, peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage in areas other than the brain or spine.

Completely severing or killing the nerve will stop all signals below the injury from reaching the brain. Damage to the nerve, on the other hand, could lead to corrupted signals, which the brain can interpret as buzzing, tingling, burning, hypersensitivity, and pain.

The effects of neuropathy usually appear in the hands and feet if illness, medications, genetic conditions, autoimmune disorders, infections, or diabetes cause them. However, the symptoms of neuropathy caused by traumatic injuries can happen anywhere, depending on the location of the trauma.

Spinal Trauma

As all nerves travel through the spinal column before extending to other areas of the body, damage to the spinal cord can affect all bodily systems, especially those in the extremities beyond the traumatized area. Spinal trauma at the waist, for example, could cause problems in the gut, pelvis, legs, and feet but probably won’t affect the use of your arms. A neck injury, on the other hand, could affect any part of the body from the neck down, including the arms, hands, lungs, and heart.

Car accidents, head trauma, sports injuries, falls, and other high-impact traumatic events affecting the spine are common sources of peripheral neuropathy.

Skin Trauma

There are a lot of sensory nerves in the skin, especially in the fingers and toes. Damage to the skin in these areas can cause peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Possible sources of skin damage include:

  • Burns: Burns can be superficial, affecting only the top layer of skin like a sunburn, or they can cause damage through all three layers of skin, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bone in the case of a house fire or chemical burn. Sunburns tend to heal completely in a few weeks, but deeper damage can cause permanent neuropathy in peripheral nerves.
  • Cuts: Surgeons make precise incisions in strategic locations to allow them to repair damaged tissues or organs beneath the skin.
  • Abrasions: Road rash and other abrasions can scrape away layers of the skin and nerves. Recovery rates depend on the injury’s severity.
  • Contusions: Bruising from impact trauma could cause temporary damage, like hitting your funny bone.

Limb Damage

Crushing or cutting injuries to a limb impacting deeper tissues could cause permanent damage. People even have phantom pain in amputated limbs because the nerve was damaged in such a way that it continues to send corrupted signals to the brain long after the extremity is removed.

Is Neuropathy Always Permanent?

No. It’s important to note that the sooner you seek treatment, the better the outcome. Your chiropractor can help create an inner environment conducive to healing for the best possible outcome. Nerves need plenty of the right nourishment, oxygen, free range of motion, and adequate blood flow to have the best chance at healing and regeneration. Your chiropractor can use technology, nutritional education, and exercises to improve all four conditions. It is possible to reverse neuropathy in some cases.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve suffered trauma that causes you to experience burning, buzzing, numbness, or pins and needles in your hands and feet, you’re not alone. Even with the best treatments, it takes time for nerves to heal, but there are ways to mitigate your symptoms while you heal.

Do all your assigned exercises to rehab the affected area. Avoid alcohol and nicotine, as they can restrict blood flow to your nerves. Keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes or metabolic resistance. Get plenty of rest and manage your stress levels. Providing your body with the tools and conditions it needs to heal your nerves will give you the best possible outcome.


The information, including but not limited to, texts, graphics, images, and other material contained in this article are for informational purposes only. None of the material mentioned is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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