Countless car accidents cause injuries in Pennsylvania every day. While these injuries can range from minor to severe and occur almost anywhere on the body, back injuries are among the most common. They are also some of the most debilitating, and can keep victims out of work for weeks or months at a time due to severe pain and weakness. The cost of treating a back or neck injury depends whether you can get by on noninvasive treatments or whether you need spinal surgery after a car accident.
Some of the most common spinal surgeries necessary after a car crash include:
The violent forces in a car accident can damage the discs between your vertebrae, causing them to bulge or herniate. Both of these injuries force the disc out of its proper place, leading it to press against nerves and cause significant pain. Pain management and physical therapy are often effective, but when these non-invasive treatments fail, a discectomy may be necessary.
While surgeons can perform a discectomy anywhere along the spine, most of these procedures are posterior lumbar discectomies to repair a disc in the lower back. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the back and removes part or all of the problem disc. Some people qualify for a minimally invasive version of this surgery, where only a small incision is made. Others, however, require an open procedure.
Doctors often use spinal fusion surgery when surgery is necessary to treat fractured vertebrae. This surgery fuses — or permanently joins — the broken vertebra to the surrounding vertebrae in order to stop any movement between the bones and stabilize the spine.
This procedure requires placing a bone graft in the affected area. This graft will grow, joining the separate vertebrae together with a single fixed bone. In some cases, rods, screws, or other equipment may also be necessary to stabilize the spine. While this procedure does limit range of motion somewhat, most people are able to return to their normal activities in about three months. The bone can take up to 18 months to fully fuse.
A surgeon performs a rhizotomy in order to sever nerve roots in the spine. This is one of the most effective treatments for chronic back pain and back spasms after a car accident injury. Before opting to perform the surgery, many doctors first try facet injections, as these injections offer a good indicator of whether or not a rhizotomy will be effective.
Used for chronic cervical or lumbar pain, this procedure offers lasting relief for many car accident victims. In the operating room, the surgeon uses a small heated, electric probe to destroy the nerve near the root. This prevents the pain signals from running up the spine and reaching the brain.
More commonly known as decompression surgery, a laminectomy relieves pressure and compression in the spinal column. Damage to the spine during an accident can lead to bone spurs during healing, and these overgrowths of bone can cause a narrowing of the spinal column. This leaves little room for the spinal cord and nerves. Often, these vital structures become compressed, causing back or neck pain as well as weakness and numbness in the extremities.
In most cases, doctors recommend pain medications, physical therapy, and other less-invasive procedures before opting to perform a laminectomy. During decompression surgery, the surgeon removes the section of the vertebra that covers the spinal canal (lamina). This relieves the pressure placed on the spinal cord and nerves, preventing future symptoms.
Similar to a laminectomy, a foraminotomy is a procedure designed to relieve pressure on spinal nerves. This type of decompression surgery focuses on enlarging the area where the nerve comes out of the spinal canal. A foraminotomy is possible on any vertebra, from the neck to the lower back.
Surgeons may consider this surgery when other treatments fail, or when car accident victims have severe pain, weakness or numbness in their legs or arms that interferes with work and normal activities.
In many cases, a surgeon performs a foraminotomy in conjunction with a spinal fusion, depending on the patient’s specific injuries. This procedure also often requires removing the lamina as well.
How can I collect compensation after spinal surgery?
Linking your back injury to your car accident plays a key role in ensuring you receive the compensation you need to cover medical bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and other costs after spinal surgery. For this reason, it is paramount to see a doctor as soon as symptoms develop, and ensure your doctor carefully documents your ongoing medical care in your medical records.
You should also contact a Pennsylvania car accident attorney who can help you begin to compile all of the evidence needed to prove your case and calculate your damages. Cordisco & Saile LLC offers a free initial consultation and case review for car accident victims.
In order to recover compensation from an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit, you must provide evidence to show the damages you suffered in the crash. Often, this includes:
- Your medical records
- Copies of all medical bills
- Information about your rehabilitation
- Proof of physical therapy
- Documents showing missed work
- Documents proving lost wages (e.g., paystubs, W-2s)
- Testimony from expert witnesses about your condition and treatment
- Proof of any other accident-associated costs
At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we can file your insurance claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and even file a lawsuit if necessary. If you need assistance getting the compensation you deserve after surgery for back injuries sustained in a Pennsylvania car crash, contact us today at 215-486-8196.