Back injuries are one of the most common injuries people sustain in car accidents. When the force of the accident places pressure on the spine, the spinal discs can sustain stress and injury, which can cause a herniated or bulging disc injury. The term herniated disc is sometimes used interchangeably with ruptured or slipped discs. These types of spinal injuries can cause substantial pain, discomfort, and nerve damage, and make daily life miserable for some victims. If you suffered from a herniated disc from a car accident, call Cordisco & Saile LLC for help recovering damages.
While some people who have herniated disc injuries feel sharp throbbing pain in their back right after the accident, the symptoms can come on more gradually for others. Delayed diagnosis and treatment could cause major complications down the road, and it could also wind up hurting your car accident claim. These are some of the key reasons you always want to get a medical evaluation right after an accident, regardless of how minor you perceive your injuries to be.
What exactly are herniated discs and what symptoms do they cause?
Spinal discs are tough, fibrous discs in between each of the vertebra in the spinal column. Each of the body’s 24 round, flat discs is filled with a soft, jelly-like material called nucleus pulposus, which provides pliancy and shock absorption for the spine.
Upon impact of a car accident, the spinal discs can be thrust outward or laterally, “bulging” or “slipping” from their position along spinal column, and pressing against the surrounding nerves. The disc itself could sustain a leak or a tear, causing the inner material to leak or “herniate,” likewise touching the nerves in the spine. This is different from a bulging disc injury. A bulging disc only stretches beyond where it normally lays and does not usually cause much pain.
Any pressure on the nerves can cause pain and make it difficult to move. Moreover, nucleus pulposus is highly inflammatory, so any leakage or contact with nerves can cause significant pain.
Other symptoms of herniated discs, which can vary according to the injured disc’s location along the spinal column, can include the following.
- Herniated discs in the lower back (lumbar spine) – Leg pain, sciatica, weakness in the toes or feet, and radiating pain and numbness along the feet.
- Herniated discs in the mid back (thoracic spine) – Radiating nerve pain in the chest or abdomen, numbness below the affected disc, difficulty with walking or balance, and, in extreme cases, loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Herniated discs in the upper back/neck (cervical spine) – Weakness in shoulders, triceps, upper arms, and fingers; shoulder pain; problems with hand grip; and tingling that runs down the arm to the fingers.
How are herniated discs treated?
Many herniated disc injuries will heal on their own under a doctor’s supervision. Patients may be prescribed non-invasive treatments to alleviate the symptoms. Conservative treatments that relieve patients’ pain can include pain and anti-inflammatory medication, oral steroids, epidural injections, manual traction, chiropractic manipulations, ice and heat therapy, physical therapy, and yoga.
If conservative treatments are not sufficient, patients may have to undergo surgery to repair the affected disc and alleviate pressure on the nerves. Options include discectomies, laminectomies, artificial disc surgeries, and spinal fusions. The efficacy of surgery for herniated discs is arguable in the medical community. Surgeries come with risk, such as infection and nerve damage, but if the severely damaged disc is not treated, it could wind up causing long-term damage and subsequent ruptures. Your doctor will discuss which treatment options would work best for you.
What types of damages can you collect for herniated disc injuries?
If you suffered a herniated disc injury in a car accident, you might have a lot of resulting damages. Your medical and treatment bills will rack up quickly, and you could be out of work because you have limited mobility, cannot lift objects, or might not even be able to sit at your desk. It could take weeks or months to recover, and some people have pain that lingers for much longer. In addition, you may require ongoing physical therapy and even multiple surgeries.
When you file a claim or lawsuit after a car accident, all of your treatments, losses, and expenses related to your injury should be compensable. You may be able to collect damages such as the following.
- Medical expenses
- Diagnostic tests
- Surgeries and medications
- Specialist care, e.g., physical therapy and chiropractic care
- Lost wages and disability
How can an attorney help me with my car accident claim?
If you have a herniated disc injury that resulted from accident, you will want to have an attorney help you file your claim. A lawyer can ensure that all of your damages are accounted for so that you are sufficiently compensated. This includes not only the bills you have accumulated so far, but also your future treatment needs and disability.
Back injury claimants often run into problems with getting a fair settlement because it can be hard to prove many of their symptoms. Pain and pressure do not show up on an x-ray; insurance adjusters may try claim that you are exaggerating or fabricating your injury and try to pay you less than what you need. A lawyer will be able to help you collect proof of your injury and demonstrate just how the injury is affecting your life, so that insurance companies cannot shortchange you on your settlement.
In addition to all of this, a lawyer can help with all other aspects of a car accident claim, such as drafting documents, proving liability, negotiating, and even filing a lawsuit, if necessary.
If you were recently in a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you might benefit from our accident guidebook, Don’t Crash Again! A Car Accident Victim’s Guide to Maximizing Recovery. In it, we discuss lots of important information you should read over before you file your claim or sign any settlement offers.
Call our injury attorneys at Cordisco & Saile to discuss your case, free of charge. We can review the specifics of your accident, take the time to fully understand the extent of your herniated disc and other injuries, and then help you take the necessary steps to pursue a full and fair settlement. Contact us today at 215-642-2335 and schedule a consultation.