It’s not uncommon for car accident victims to suffer from a herniated disc. This is because the force of a car accident can impact the spine and cause the spinal discs to shift. An injury like this can be painful and the recovery process may be lengthy depending on the severity of the injury and the health status of the victim.
Proving you sustained a herniated disc after a car accident can be difficult. It’s important to understand your injury and learn how it happened, so you can receive full and fair compensation for what you were put through.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
Spinal discs separate the spine’s vertebrae. These discs are important because they absorb shock and prevent damage to the spine. When physical trauma causes the disc to rupture, the disc can shift and hit a nerve in the spinal column. That shift and the associated pain is referred to as a herniated disc. The more pressure put on the spinal nerve, the more pain a person is likely to experience.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Regardless of where the herniated disc is, there can be pain associated with the injury. Some people, however, can have a herniated disc without even knowing it. If you’ve been in a car accident that caused a herniated disc, it’s likely you’re experiencing some level of pain.
The most common symptom is arm or leg pain. When a disc in the lower back is herniated, the most intense pain is typically in the buttocks, thighs, and calves. Some people also experience foot pain. If the herniated disc is in the upper back or neck, the pain will be most intense in the shoulders or arms. When moving, coughing, or sneezing, a shooting pain may travel down the arms or legs.
Some individuals with herniated discs also experience numbness, tingling, or weakness. This happens in the areas where the nerves were affected.
How Are Herniated Discs Treated?
In many cases, a herniated disc will improve on its own within a few weeks. The best thing a person can do it rest. Avoid exercising or activities that require bending or lifting. But, it’s important to move so your joints and muscles don’t stiffen up. Your doctor may tell you to take over-the-counter pain medications to help relieve discomfort and reduce swelling. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed to ease muscle spasms. In the injury is moderate, physical therapy is an option.
In the event of a serious herniated disc, surgery may be needed. This is not typical, but it can happen. The most common procedures are discectomy, lumbar laminotomy, and spinal fusion. A discectomy removes the damaged disk to relieve the pressure. A lumbar laminotomy removes a small piece of bone called the lamina from the vertebra to relieve pressure. After either of those two procedures, a surgeon may do a spinal fusion. This is where two vertebrae are fused together to stabilize the spine.
Determining If an Auto Accident Caused a Disk Herniation
Because herniated discs are so common, it’s possible a car accident victim could have had one prior to the crash. A medical professional will be able to evaluate the patient and determine the cause of the injury. If your herniated disc was caused by an auto wreck, it’s important to collect that information from the doctor, as it will be important evidence when you file your car accident claim.
The following are questions the doctor will likely take into consideration when determining if an accident caused a disk herniation:
- How old is the patient? As a person ages, there’s a great chance for a herniated disc. After 40, there’s a 50/50 chance the patient has already experienced a disk herniation without knowing it.
- When did the pain start? Timing can determine if the accident caused the back injury. If the car accident victim experienced arm or leg pain immediately after the accident, it’s likely the crash caused the injury.
- Can the type of force of the accident determine if disk herniation occurred? The more serious the accident, the more likely it’s the cause of a herniated disk.
- Has the patient had similar complaints in the past? If a car accident victim complained to a physician about symptoms of a disk herniation prior to the crash, it’s possible the wreck only exacerbated a condition they already had.
- What does the MRI say? When a doctor looks at an MRI, they may be able to determine when the disc herniated based on it’s appearance.
Insurance companies will often try to get out of paying a car accident victim everything they’re owed by claiming their injuries existed prior to the crash. In order to prove this was not the case, you’ll need an experienced lawyer by your side. Get in touch with Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO today to learn more about the benefits of seeking legal representation for a personal injury claim.