Can Car Accidents Cause a Herniated Disc?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 3.9 million annual emergency department visits related to car accident injuries every year. Out of these car accident injuries, those affecting the injured person’s back area have been some of the most severe. The Barnes Firm’s best car accident lawyer says person’s spine can suddenly shift, rotate, or swing out of alignment during the impact of a car crash, leading to a variety of injuries such as herniated discs and fractured vertebrae.

It’s not uncommon for car accident victims to believe they’re uninjured immediately after an accident because of the adrenaline rush brought on by the shock. However, once they relax, the pain often sets in. To avoid further injury, it’s crucial for car accident victims to always see a doctor immediately after the collision. The medical documentation you get from seeing a doctor will be essential if you decide to pursue a personal injury claim for losses incurred after the accident, like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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person holding the back of their neck in pain

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc, or a ruptured or slipped disc, is one of the most frequent types of back injuries following car accidents. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the spine contains discs that support the spine as shock absorbers. Each disc in the vertebrae contains a tough exterior, called the annulus fibrosus, that surrounds a softer interior. A herniated disc results from a force that ruptures the outer annulus fibrosus, causing the interior to leak into the spinal canal, which has little space. A herniated disc pressing against the spinal cavity nerves can cause significant discomfort to a person after a car accident.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Common symptoms of a herniated disc include:

  • Numbness or tingling that spreads to the leg or foot
  • Back pain that radiates to other areas in the body
  • Muscle weakness in the back
  • Burning sensation in the affected areas

Most commonly, herniated discs occur in the lower back or the neck after a car accident. The pain and severity of a herniated disc depend on the disc’s position and extent of the herniation. Because the disc often protrudes further into the spinal canal, a car accident lawyer says the pain of a herniated disc is often more intense than that of other back injuries, like a bulged disc.

business woman with back pain and neck pain in office
doctor looking at a spinal xray of a patient injured in an accident

Diagnosis of a Herniated Disc

Prompt medical treatment after a car accident is vital for minimizing the overall pain and severity of the injury. The medical records will also help if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit to secure compensation for damages. To receive appropriate medical treatment, victims must have their herniated disc adequately diagnosed by a medical professional.

To diagnose a herniated disc, doctors often utilize the following tests:

  • X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Myelogram

A medical professional can diagnose whether you’re suffering from a herniated disc injury or something else with the results of these tests, along with a physical examination.

How is a Herniated Disc Injury Treated?

Generally, most herniated disc injuries don’t require surgery. Doctors often treat a herniated disc with anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pressure off the spinal nerve, and many injured victims go to physical therapy for ongoing evaluation and treatment. Other treatment options outside of surgery include:

  • Pain medication
  • Muscle relaxants
  • and spinal injections.

If the injury and pain worsen, a doctor might recommend surgery.

Surgeries to treat herniated discs may include:

  • Discectomy: Removal of damaged discs to relieve pressure off the spine
  • Laminotomy/ laminectomy: Surgery that removes a small piece of bone, the lamina, which covers and protects the spinal cord
  • Spinal fusion: Surgery often performed after a discectomy or laminectomy when a surgeon fuses the two vertebrae on either side of the removed discs to stabilize the spine
  • Artificial disc surgery: Surgery that replaces damaged discs with artificial ones made of metal or plastic

Depending on the severity of your injury, a surgeon may perform one or a combination of these treatments to heal a herniated disc injury.

  • X-ray
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Myelogram

A medical professional can diagnose whether you’re suffering from a herniated disc injury or something else with the results of these tests, along with a physical examination.

puzzle pieces making up an image of a spine
woman with neck pain after car accident

How is a Herniated Disc Valued in a Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve suffered a herniated disc injury after a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may benefit from filing an injury claim. Medical treatments, even without the cost of surgery, can become exceedingly high. Those costs, along with lost income during your recovery, pain and suffering, and more, can be recovered through a successful personal injury claim.

Many contributing factors determine the overall value of your injury claim. Determining that your injuries and damages were the direct result of the car accident caused by another party is essential for a successful injury claim. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim for your damages after a car accident, it would be in your best interest to consult with an accomplished attorney with experience handling car accident cases. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will be able to review the facts surrounding your case and establish the best plan of action.

Experienced Legal Representation from The Barnes Firm

The car accident lawyers at The Barnes Firm can help if you’ve been injured in an auto collision. Our attorneys have received awards and accreditations for their years of legal work, like high ratings on The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. They use their decades of combined experience to help their clients get the best result possible. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer today, complete an online contact form or call our office at any time 24/7.