If you have been in an accident involving an injury to your face, you may be wondering “Why is my face numb after an accident?”
The sensitivity of the face is due to a facial nerve that emerges from the brain stem; it is called the trigeminal nerve.
When any part of this nerve is damaged, numbness may occur in various parts of the face.
Some of the possible causes of facial numbness include pressure on the nerve, whiplash, seizures or even dehydration.
Accidental falls, sports accidents and automobile collisions are frequent causes of facial injuries; injury to the nose is the most common type of facial trauma.
Numbness in the nose or any part of the face is an indication that a neurological examination should be performed. This usually includes an MRI or CT scan of the head, the neck and possibly the spine.
Injuries that cause a numb face after an accident
1. Trauma to the nose
Hitting the nose hard enough to cause bruising and swelling, as in a car accident, can cause temporary numbness. Swelling may place pressure on the facial nerve, temporarily causing parts of the face to become numb, including the nose. Once the puffiness goes down, sensation often returns.
The inside and outside of the nose should be examined to identify any tears or broken cartilage. A doctor can often tell if the nose is broken by manipulating the cartilage and making a visual examination. However, x-rays are useful in making sure that there are no hairline fractures in the face that are not immediately apparent.
Your doctor will often prescribe antibiotics when there is an injury to the nose or other parts of the face. This is so that infection won’t set in due to the broken and bruised skin. It is important to completely finish any prescriptions your doctor gives you after an injury to the face.
2. Facial Fractures
High impact accidents can cause broken bones as well as discoloration and swelling of the nose. It is important to examine all parts of the face after a high impact accident, as some trauma may not be immediately apparent. The neck and spine should also be checked out to get a clear picture of what is causing pain or numbness.
It may take weeks or months for numbness to subside and sensation to return to the nose after a major trauma such as an automobile accident. Recovery from this type of injury is usually complete.
However, if some numbness remains after months of healing, this could mean that there was only a partial recovery. By one year past the accident, any numbness that remains will most likely be permanent.
3. Sensory Nerve Damage
This is more serious than trauma to the nose or a facial fracture, since there is a chance that it will become permanent. The main sensory nerve to the face, the trigeminal nerve, has branches called dendrites that extend to different parts of the face.
As previously mentioned, pressure on this nerve can temporarily cause numbness in the face. Damage to the facial nerve, however, can cause permanent numbness or paralysis.
Damage to the facial nerve because of a collision is usually accompanied by blunt force injury to the side of the face, around the temples. If the area around the nose is the only part involved in an injury, it is unlikely that the numbness will be paired with paralysis.
In some cases, however, paralysis occurs long after the accident because of infection or inflammation of the facial nerve. Steroids can often reverse this condition.
Caring for Your Injured Face
Minimize the pain and swelling. Keeping the head elevated will stop blood from pooling in the damaged area and this will help with bruising and swelling, as well as pain.
Using a cold pack on the nose will also relieve some of the pain, as long as it does not add any pressure to the face. A small amount of crushed ice in a plastic bag should be wrapped in a washcloth before applying it to the injured area, to prevent the ice from damaging the skin. The ice pack should be used for 15 or 20 minutes out of every hour.
Avoid putting pressure on your face and nose when you have injuries from a car accident or other trauma. It is important to sneeze with your mouth open to relieve pressure on the injured area and you should not blow your nose at all. Make sure that you do not sleep on the injured part of your face, as this will also cause pressure and may make it worse.
After-effects of Accidental Trauma
When an injury has been sustained due to a traffic accident, a fall or other mishap, it is important to evaluate the extent of the injuries. This is why x-rays, MRIs and CT scans are prescribed by doctors after an accident occurs. Although injuries may be present only on the face, there is also a chance that the neck and spine may have been affected by the force of the collision.
People experience different degrees of injury but all of them include the risk of permanent damage. One way to help prevent this is with the use of antibiotics to fight the risk of infection.
Trauma to the nose may cause bruising and swelling, as well as numbness. In many cases, the damage is to the tissues of the nose and will heal completely over time. Facial fractures and nerve damage may pose more serious risks, including permanent numbness and paralysis of the face.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce the swelling and infection that could lead to complications from trauma to the face. If injuries from an accident are thoroughly checked out by a doctor and precautions are taken, you could be well on your way to a successful recovery.
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