Motor vehicle crashes can cause a variety of serious injuries. Among the more common injuries that can cause lasting impacts on a person’s life is a herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc.
The bodily injury attorneys of Maginnis Law are experienced in representing car accident victims who have suffered a herniated disc. We have also represented folks injured in other types of incidents that resulted in a herniated disc. Our attorneys will work diligently to help ensure you obtain the medical evidence and opinions necessary to prove your case against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. To speak with our lead personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard, call him directly at 919.480.8526 or visit our contact page. Maginnis Law represents injury victims throughout the state of North Carolina.
The human spinal column is composed of several vertebrae (bones) between which there are rubbery intervertebral discs. The discs cushion the impact of our vertebrae hitting one another during movement. Many doctors will describe these discs as a “jelly donut,” in that they have a firm outside and a more liquefied inside. A herniated disc occurs when the interior “jelly” portion of the disc pokes out through the exterior. The result of a herniated disc is many times that the interior “jelly” like material will compress nearby nerves.
The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary based upon the spinal level where it occurs. For example, the two most common locations of a disc herniation are C6-C7 in the neck and L4-L5, L5-S1 in the lower back. If a disc herniation occurs at C6-C7, the nerves that are likely to be compressed distribute down to the arms. As a result, any compression by the disc material will result in pain and other sensations, such as numbness or tingling, down the arm and into the hand and fingers. Similarly, because the nerves at L4-5 distribute down the legs, any compression at that level by the disc material is likely to cause pain and other difficulties down the leg, including primarily in the buttocks and thigh.
Proving a herniated disc was caused by a car crash is often not as easy to prove with an insurance company as many folks think. Because herniated discs can sometimes be a degenerative condition, insurance companies frequently deny claims involving disc problems. Ultimately, though, if a person has no pattern or history of “radicular” pain down in the arms or legs before a crash, and does have documented problems of this nature in the weeks, months and years after the crash, most doctors will say that the automobile wreck caused the herniated disc. This is particularly true if there is a more “focal” type herniation rather than a broad based disc herniation.
Treatment of a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disc can range from simple physical therapy to pharmaceutical usage to steroid injections to major surgical intervention. The surgical options typically are dependent upon where the herniation is located. For instance, if the herniation is in the lower back, a discectomy is typically the surgery performed. In this procedure, the doctor creates an incision in the lower spine and then removes the herniated disc material so that it is no longer compressing the spinal nerves. If, on the other hand, the slipped disc is in the neck, a more complex procedure referred to an ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion) is typically needed. In this procedure, the doctor will “fuse” together the two vertebrae nearest the disc in addition to removing the disc material. Often times, the vertebrae are fused with bone material harvested from somewhere else in the body. In the worst cases, a multi-level surgery must be completed. For example, 3 or 4 different vertebrae may have to be fused into one, resulting in serious permanent physical impairments.