Spinal injuries are extremely common in motor vehicle accidents as well as slip and falls. They can range in nature and severity but often prove to be painful and commonly cause discomfort well into the future. One such common type of spinal injury in personal injury cases is a herniated disc.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
The spinal column is an intricate network of delicate structures that come together to not only support your body standing upright but also to act as a communication highway to send messages between the brain and the rest of the body and vice versa. Some of the key components of the spine include:
- The vertebrae: These are the bony structures that make up the spinal column as well as supporting your body as it stands upright.
- Spinal cord: This is the lengthy bundle of nerve fibers that runs all the way from your brain stem to the base of your spine. It is tasked with the transmission of messages from your brain to your body parts and vice versa.
- Spinal nerves: These are branches of the nerve that run out from the spinal cord. Spinal nerves are tasked with communicating messages to specific muscle groups throughout the body.
- Discs: These jelly-like structures are found in between the vertebrae and are there in order to cushion the spine. Without the discs, the vertebrae will rub together causing painful friction.
When involved in an accident like a car accident or slip and fall, the force of impact can put pressure on a person’s spine, the discs in particular. The pressure on the discs can cause the jelly-like structure to absorb the shock and then, in turn, causes it to push out through the fibrous exterior of the disc. The protrusion of the disc is referred to as a herniated disc. It is also often referred to as a “slipped” disc and it can cause serious problems for the injury victim.
While there are some cases where a person may not even notice a herniated disc as he or she may not experience any pain or other symptoms. It is often the case, however, where a person who has suffered a herniated disc experiences immediate and severe pain. The injury victim may also suffer pain that radiates down arms and legs. This is true for those that have a disc protruding in a way where it presses on the spinal cord or the tender nerve roots. Persistent radiating pain can eventually lead to muscle weakness as well as permanent damage to nerves.
In order to be diagnosed with a herniated disc, a doctor will generally only need to do a physical examination. Commonly, however, a doctor will order radiographic studies, such as an MRI or CT scan to confirm the herniated disc. Treatment of the herniated disc will depend on the individual case. Sometimes a herniated disc may require surgery but this will vary based on the location and the severity of the injury.
Other times, treatment of the herniated disc may merit an artificial disc replacement where the damaged disc is removed and replaced with a device made of plastic and metal. A fusion may also be an option that will stabilize the spine through the insertion of rods and other hardware into the vertebrae. Sometimes, however, less invasive measures are the only things that are needed. The pain stemming from the injury can be managed with things such as medication and physical therapy.
Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have suffered a spinal injury in an accident, talk to the dedicated attorneys at SoCal Injury Lawyers. We can discuss your legal options for recovering compensation for your injuries. Contact us today.