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Can a Car Accident Cause a Bulging Disc?

Written by Tom Crosley
Jan 17, 2022 Personal Injury, Spine Injuries
  1. 1. What Is a Bulging Disc Injury?
  2. 2. Bulging Discs vs. Herniated Discs
  3. 3. What Is My Bulging Disc’s Settlement Value?
  4. 4. Crosley Law Works Hard to Get Justice for Texas Bulging Disc Victims

Can a Car Accident Cause a Bulging Disc?

After a serious car accident, many people experience back pain. While some sprains and strains resolve quickly, chronic pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness might be signs of a bulging disc or another serious back injury. Unfortunately, proving your case and getting the compensation you deserve might not be easy.

Crosley Law’s car accident attorneys help accident victims with a variety of neck, spinal cord, and back injuries, including bulging discs. In this article, we will cover what a bulging disc is, common injury claim issues, and how a personal injury lawyer can make a difference in your claim’s success.

What Is a Bulging Disc Injury?

Before we discuss bulging or protruding discs, you need to understand how your spine works. The spine is a complex structure made up of different parts that work together to support your body and help your brain communicate. Its many parts include:

  • Vertebrae: Bony sections of your spine that keep you upright and protect your spinal cord.
  • Spinal cord: Nerve fibers running from your brain stem to the base of your spine. These long bundles allow your brain to communicate with your body parts.
  • Spinal nerves: Nerves that branch off the spinal cord to communicate with specific muscle groups
  • Discs: Doughnut-shaped cushions that absorb shock along the spine, stabilize your back, and help you move

There’s not a lot of space between these structures. So, when an injury causes swelling or moves something out of place, it can cause severe pain and other problems.

Bulging Discs 101

Discs are prone to damage for a variety of reasons, but trauma from a car crash can easily injure them. The discs in your spine have two main layers: the annulus and the nucleus. The annulus is an outer layer made up of tough fibers that protect the rest of the disc. The nucleus is the soft center, made up of a jelly-like substance designed to absorb shock.

A bulging disc occurs when the nucleus pushes outward but does not break through the disc’s outer layer. The damaged disc can compress the nerves in your spinal column, causing nerve damage and pain. But, sometimes, people have minor bulging discs and are symptom-free.

Repetitive, heavy work, the aging process, and the wear and tear of daily life can weaken a disc. However, sudden impacts and other trauma can also cause discs to bulge or protrude.

While the insurance company would like you to think that all bulging discs are due to genetics, your work, or your age, motor vehicle accidents can cause or worsen bulging discs.

Related: What You Need to Know About Car Accidents and Herniated Discs

While the insurance company would like you to think that all bulging discs are due to genetics, your work, or your age, motor vehicle accidents can cause or worsen bulging discs.

Symptoms of Bulging or Herniated Disc

Symptoms of a bulging disc can vary depending on severity and location of the disc injury, and they can also be very similar to those of a disc herniation (which is often a more serious injury). If you or a loved one has experienced a car accident and is suffering from any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible:

  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Arm, shoulder, or leg pain
  • Tingling or numbness in your arms, shoulder, or hand
  • Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
  • Trouble holding or gripping items
  • Headaches while lying down
  • Numbness or burning in the legs
  • Leg weakness
  • Bladder control issues
  • Trouble moving or restricted motion

If you are experiencing bladder or bowel control issues or a drop foot, seek immediate emergency medical treatment. These are signs of serious and potentially permanent injury.

Once you seek medical attention, doctors will use a variety of tests to diagnose the severity of your injury. Be sure to mention your car accident along with your symptoms so your doctor can best understand your situation. If your doctor suspects a disc or spine injury after an initial physical examination, they may order an MRI or CT scan to get a clearer picture.

Symptoms of a disc injury do not always appear immediately following a car crash, so be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as they do. Bulging disc injuries are often treatable through conservative treatment, but treatment may become more invasive and aggressive the longer you wait.

Common Causes of Bulging Discs

Factors that cause bulging discs include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Physical strain from heavy lifting or repetitive motion
  • Poor posture
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Car accidents, blows to the back, sudden movement

The most common cause of a bulging disc is age-related degenerative disease—and insurance adjusters use this to their advantage.

Don’t be surprised if the insurance company argues that your bulging or extruded disc was a pre-existing condition. They’ll try to shift blame to you, saying that your work, hobbies, genetic predisposition, age, or weight are to blame for your pain and suffering.

To fight back, you’ll need strong evidence and a skilled personal injury lawyer. Texas’ courts apply a legal doctrine called the “eggshell skull rule” in cases where there is a pre-existing condition. Under this rule, an at-fault driver is responsible for your damages, even if you had pre-existing conditions that made you more prone to injury.

Our injury lawyers can help you uncover the causes of your bulging discs and symptoms, poring over your MRI reports, CT scans, and consulting with medical experts.

Bulging Discs vs. Herniated Discs

Sometimes, people use “bulging disc” and “herniated disc” interchangeably. While they are very similar, the difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc lies in one factor: a tear. With a herniated disc, the nucleus pushes through a tear in the outer annulus. This causes pain in several ways. First, the tearing of the annulus is painful itself. Second, a disc herniation will often compress a nerve root or the spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness.

Can a Car Accident Cause a Bulging Disc

Herniated discs can happen anywhere along the spine, just like a bulging disc, but are most common in the lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck).

Although they are often a more severe spinal injury than bulging discs, herniated discs’ symptoms can be extremely similar. Doctors also typically recommend similar treatment options for the two conditions, including anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and spinal surgery. (However, you are more likely to need surgery if you have a disc herniation.)

RELATED: Herniated Disc Settlements—What’s My Case Worth in Texas?

What Is My Bulging Disc’s Settlement Value?

If you choose to file an auto accident claim for your bulging disc injury, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your chances. Your insurance company may try to minimize your injuries, claiming it’s “just” a bulging disc, without treating it as seriously as it should be. If this happens to you, consult a law firm who can communicate with the insurance companies for you while you focus on your recovery.

Factors that May Affect Your Settlement Claim’s Value

Every injury is different, whether in severity, location, or cause. This makes understanding exactly what level of financial recovery one may be entitled to difficult. Some major factors that may influence your settlement’s value are:

  • Severity of your injuries: Bulging discs can lead to long term pain and suffering, medical treatment, and medical bills. Some severe injuries can even lead to surgical procedures or physical therapy, which place serious physical, emotional, and financial burdens on the victim. These hardships will be considered when determining your settlement’s value.
  • Cause of accident: You will then need to prove that the other party in your crash caused your injuries. If you were partially responsible, this will likely affect the size of your car accident settlement.
  • Your ability to work: If you cannot work due to your bulging disc injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation for past and future lost wages. To receive compensation for lost wages, you will need to provide proof of reduced work ability directly related to your injury.
  • Policy limits: In most cases, no matter how severe your injuries, your compensation will be limited by the applicable insurance policy limits. An attorney can help you identify all the policies that apply to your bulging disc claim.

Related: Car Accident Neck & Back Injuries-Average Settlement

Crosley Law Works Hard to Get Justice for Texas Bulging Disc Victims

At Crosley Law, our team works with victims of car accident injuries across Texas, helping them understand their legal options and the true value of their claims. We take an aggressive approach and aren’t afraid to take cases to trial when the insurance company refuses to give you the fair settlement you deserve.

If you or a loved one suffered a bulging disc injury due to a car accident, contact Crosley Law for a free consultation. To speak with us, complete our online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000. We’d love to learn more about your situation and will give you honest advice about how to proceed with your claim.  

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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