What You Need to Know About Car Accidents and Herniated Discs
Many car accident victims suffer herniated discs during a collision. While these injuries can be life-changing, you shouldn’t panic if you’re diagnosed with a disc injury. Instead, consult with your doctors and a San Antonio personal injury lawyer. Below, Crosley Law’s personal injury lawyers explain the basics of a herniated disc and what you should do to protect yourself after a crash.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
Your spine is made up of a series of delicate structures that support your body and help your brain communicate messages. Some of the important parts of your spine are:
- Vertebrae: These bony structures hold your spinal cord and help you stand upright.
- Spinal cord: This long bundle of nerve fibers runs from your brain stem to the bottom of your spine. It transmits messages from the brain to your body parts.
- Spinal nerves: These nerves branch off the spinal cord and send messages to specific muscle groups in your body.
- Discs: Discs are cushions that serve as shock absorbers in your spine.
Because the spaces between these different body parts are tiny, any swelling or injury can cause serious problems, especially when a disc is damaged.
Your discs are made up of two main layers. First, there is the annulus, which is a series of tough, fibrous bands that protect the disc. Inside it is the nucleus, a jelly-like substance that absorbs shocks. As you age, these parts can become flatter and more brittle, making you prone to injury.
While some herniated discs occur without an apparent cause, many are related to trauma. During a car crash, for example, your spine is subjected to a series of forces. These forces can put pressure on the disc, causing the nucleus to push out through the disc’s fibrous exterior—especially if your spine already has some age-related degeneration. The protrusion is called a herniated disc or slipped disc.
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Sometimes, a herniated disc doesn’t cause any serious pain or symptoms. However, other people report immediate, severe pain. And if the nucleus presses on your spinal cord or one of your delicate nerve roots, you might experience shooting pain into your arm or leg. Over time, this shooting pain (called radiculopathy) and the related pressure on your nerves, can cause muscle weakness and permanent nerve damage.
Do I Need Surgery for My Herniated Disc?
Some herniated discs require surgery, but not all. Sometimes, a herniated disc will resolve on its own. Other times, car accident victims can control their pain with physical therapy, medication, and other non-surgical treatments. However, if they don’t resolve your pain, you might need surgery.
There are different surgical options, depending on the location and severity of your herniated disc. Your neurosurgeon might suggest the following:
- Artificial disc replacement removes the damaged disc and replaces it with a plastic and metal device.
- A discectomy removes part or all of the disc, taking pressure off the nerve.
- A fusion stabilizes your spine by inserting rods or other hardware into your vertebrae.
- A laminectomy creates more space in the affected area by removing part of your vertebra, giving the herniation some room and taking pressure off your nerve roots.
Before you agree to surgery, make sure you understand all of your options, including less invasive alternatives.
How Do Doctors Diagnose a Herniated Disc?
If you start noticing back pain or shooting pain that runs down your leg or arm after a motor vehicle crash, seek immediate medical attention. At the ER or doctor’s office, explain that you were in a car crash and describe your symptoms. Doctors diagnose herniated discs based on a physical examination and test results. If they suspect a disc or spine injury, they will typically order an MRI or CT scan. Both are diagnostic imaging studies that can help identify the injury.
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However, you might not immediately notice a herniated disc after a car crash. It can take time for symptoms associated with a slipped disc or pinched nerve to appear. If your pain builds over time, seek medical care and tell them how your symptoms have progressed since the crash. Your doctors can help you identify the cause of your symptoms and may link it to the car accident.
“Herniated disc claims typically involve extensive medical treatment and lost income, insurance companies often try to avoid paying these claims. “
How Much Is My Herniated Disc Claim Worth?
Every motor vehicle liability claim is different. When you work with an experienced personal injury lawyer, they will consider a series of factors that impact your claim’s value, including the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical bills, and the amount of insurance coverage that is available. If you’d like to learn more about your claim’s value, contact Crosley Law for a confidential, no-risk assessment.
Do I Need a San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer for a Herniated Disc Claim?
If you suffered a herniated disc or another back injury in a car crash, it’s in your best interest to consult with a personal injury lawyer. Because herniated disc claims typically involve extensive medical treatment and lost income, insurance companies often try to avoid paying these claims.
Insurance adjusters frequently argue that the back injury was a preexisting condition. They’ll scour your medical records looking for complaints of back pain. They might even send you to a one-time doctor exam to build the case against you. Without help from a lawyer, it’s difficult to fight back.
RELATED SUCCESS STORY: Crosley Law Helps Border Patrol Agents Injured by a Reckless Driver
At Crosley Law, we understand the insurance company’s tricks and do our best to counteract them. Our San Antonio personal injury lawyers use sophisticated techniques that help explain our clients’ injuries and link them to their car crash. To learn more about the Crosley approach to personal injury claims, contact us today.
Crosley Law: We Fight for Texas Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one suffered a serious back injury in a car wreck, 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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