The forces generated in a motor vehicle collision or fall often result in significant injuries to the spine. The human spine is responsible for keeping us upright and performing the numerous bends and motions we take for granted in daily life. A herniated disc or slipped disc injury carries the potential to permanently disrupt every aspect of life.
Herniated disc injuries often result in the need for surgical correction. These costly procedures take a physical and financial toll on the victim. If your herniated disc was caused by the reckless or negligent conduct of another, you are entitled to reimbursement for you harms and losses.
What is a Herniated Disc?
The spine is composed of a series of soft cushions (intervertebral discs) in-between hard bones (vertebrae). The intervertebral discs are the spongy structures located between the vertebrae, and serve as the spine’s shock absorbers. The discs are each flat and circular, approximately 1 inch thick and 1/4 inch tall. These round discs are firmly held in place with surrounding ligaments and muscle, leaving little room for movement. While described as a shock absorber, the discs are not as flexible as the term sounds.
A disc is herniated when a force is applied to the spine which forces the soft disc outside of its normal resting position between the vertebrae. The structure of an intervertebral disc has been likened to that of a jelly donut. The disc is composed of an outer fibrous ring and a fluid inner ring. When a disc is damaged, the outer ring tears and it allow the inner ring to bulge out, or herniate, beyond the outer ring.
Below are two pictures. The picture on top shows an image of how the discs in a normal spine appear. You will notice how the discs are properly positioned between the vertebrae. The white rope like structure in the image is bundle of nerves running down the spine. The image on the bottom shows a herniated disc protruding into the nerve bundle.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Herniated discs are often caused by car or truck accidents. The deceleration forces involved in a car accident force the discs outside of their normal protected location. Falls and sporting injuries are also responsible for herniated disc injuries.
The symptoms of a herniated disc may vary greatly depending on where the disc is located in the spine and the degree of herniation. Depending on how far the disc protrudes into the nerve bundle, the symptoms of a herniated disc may include:
- Back pain or neck pain
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Leg pain or arm pain
- Numbness, tingling or weakness in the backs of the legs or toes
- Dull ache
- Muscle weakness or problems lifting arms and legs
Typically the pain will begin slowly and may not be noticeable immediately following the injury. The pain will often get worse after standing, sitting, sneezing, coughing, laughing, sleeping, or when bending.
Diagnosis and Treatment of a Herniated Disc
If you think you may be suffering from a herniated disc you should immediately contact your medical professional for an examination. Typically you will be referred to a orthopedic spine specialist for the proper treatment of your condition. Your doctor will check for loss of feeling, numbness, muscle reflexes, muscle strength, posture and spine curvature. You doctor will also likely have you perform several tests such as bending, walking, raising limbs moving your neck and other specific requests depending on your condition.
Leg pain that occurs when sitting down on an exam table and raising your leg usually suggests a herniated disc. In addition, if you have increased numbness or pain when bending your head forward and to the sides while your doctor applies pressure to the top of your head may indicate a slipped disc. If your medical professional thinks you have a herniated disc, he will likely order you to undergo one or more of the following diagnostic tests:
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- CT (Computed Tomography)
- EMG (Electromyography)
- Nerve Conduction Study
How to Fix a Herniated Disc
Treatment of a herniated disc varies with the severity of injury and degree of pain it produces. Your medical professionals will often recommend you begin with anti-inflamatroy medication (NSAIDs) and rest to ensure the problem does not go away on its own. Should your pain continue, you medical provider may recommend one or more of the following:
- Lifestyle Changes
- Physical Therapy
- Pain Management Treatment
- Steroid Injections
- Surgery (Spinal Fusion / Discectomy)
The last resort for debilitating or nagging pain is to undergo surgery. In a fusion or discectomy surgery, the doctor removes all or part of the disc. These surgeries allow many patients to return to a pain free life, but come with the risk of additional future complications.
St. Louis Herniated Disc Injury Lawyer
A herniated disc injury carries the possibility of a lifetime of agony without the proper medical care. If an injury results in the need for surgery, loss of wages and medical expenses often inflict financial ruin on injury victims, or worse, the victim must go without needed treatment because they are unable to afford the necessary medical care. However, if your herniated disc was caused by another person, you are entitled to full reimbursement for your harms and losses.
For a FREE consultation regarding your herniated disc injury claim, call our Top 100 Trial Lawyers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (314) 409-7060, or 855-402-7247 (toll free). Our aggressive representation has helped recover millions of dollars for injury victims and provided the financial security and peace of mind throughout the needed recovery period. We are here to serve. Call The Dixon Injury Firm today.