How Common Is Nerve Damage From a Burn Injury?

Burn injuries can occur in many different types of accidents, including motor vehicle collisions and workplace accidents. A burn injury impacts the soft tissues and deeper layers of the skin. Depending on the severity of the burn, it can also impact parts of the body beneath the dermis, including the muscles and bones. One of the greatest concerns with a burn injury is the potential for nerve damage. Whether or not a patient will experience nerve damage from a burn injury depends on the case.

How Does a Burn Affect the Nerves?

Nerves are bundles of fibers that transmit electrical impulses to and from the brain. Nerves are responsible for controlling many involuntary bodily functions, including temperature regulation, blood pressure and digestion. Other types of nerves control movements, actions and sensations. The information your nerves process allows you to feel pain, cold, heat and touch. If a burn injury damages the nerves, this can have a significant impact on the patient’s daily life. Whether or not a burn injury impacts the nerves depends on the thickness of the burn.

The body’s nerves are located in the thicker second layer of tissues, under the first layer of skin (the epidermis). This is called the dermis. The dermis contains nerve endings that are responsible for pain sensations. A first-degree burn, the most minor type, will not reach down into the dermis. It will stay on the epidermis. A second-degree burn, however, affects the deeper layer of tissues. It damages the epidermis and the dermis, with the possibility of impacting the nerves. A third-degree burn will also impact the nerves within the dermis.

Symptoms of Nerve Damage From a Burn Injury

Nerve damage from burn injuries can cause sensations such as numbness, weakness, pain, tingling, burning and sensitivity to touch in patients. Patients also report shooting pains around burn injuries due to damaged nerves in the area. These pains can be severe and feel electric. They may persist for the duration of the patient’s recovery. Severe nerve damage can also cause neuropathic pains, where damaged nerve endings send incorrect and random signals to other pain centers in the body that are not close to the burn. Some patients have no feeling left in the infected nerves at all due to total nerve destruction.

At the most serious level, nerve damage from a burn injury can cause conditions such as peripheral neuropathy and nerve compression. These conditions can cause pain, weakness, or tingling and prickling (paresthesia) in the affected area. These conditions can be deadly for patients depending on the case. The exact characteristics of nerve damage from a burn injury will depend on the specific patient and the severity of the burns.

Is Nerve Damage From a Burn Injury Permanent?

A burn that impacts the nerves can damage them temporarily or permanently. Most minor burn injuries of the first and second degree do not cause permanent nerve damage. Permanent damage is more frequent with severe third-degree burn injuries. Third-degree burns can severely damage or completely destroy nerve endings, making it so a victim may not initially feel pain with this type of burn. Destroyed nerve endings may never fully heal. This can result in a lack of sensation in the affected area for life.

Do All Burn Injury Victims Experience Nerve Damage?

No, all burn injury victims do not experience nerve damage. It is somewhat common, however, in patients with second- and third-degree burns. The nerves are prone to damage and destruction from burns. The more severe the burn injury, the greater the likelihood of nerve damage. Nerve damage is a possibility with all four types of burn injuries: chemical, thermal, radiation and electrical burns.

If you experience nerve damage from a burn injury in Sacramento, contact an attorney for a free consultation. Our Sacramento personal injury lawyer can help you pursue maximum compensation for temporary or permanent burn-related nerve damage.