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Herniated Discs From Car Accidents

The force of impact from a crash can cause disc herniation

A herniated disc—sometimes referred to as a bulging disc, slipped disc, or ruptured disc—can be a very painful car accident injury that has lasting consequences. Crash victims who suffer herniated discs after car accidents often face uphill battles in their recovery and their pursuit of financial compensation.

Recovering from a herniated disc can take weeks, months, or longer, and medical treatment can be expensive. If you were injured in a crash that’s not your fault, you deserve to be compensated for all your accident-related expenses, such as your medical bills, cost of future care, lost income, replacement services, and your pain and suffering. An attorney can help by investigating the circumstances of your accident and building a strong case for the compensation you’re entitled to.

At The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC, we can handle all aspects of your back injury claim while you focus on healing. We go above and beyond to stand up and fight for crash victims in New Orleans. Schedule a free consultation with us today to find out how we can help you.

What is a herniated disc?

A person’s spinal column is made up of a series of bones (vertebrae) stacked onto each other. The discs are rubbery cushions that sit in between each of the bones. These, stacked together, make up a person's spine.

The spine and many parts of the body are divided into sections. When being evaluated for a herniated disc after a car accident, your doctor may refer to an L5-S1. Also called the lumbosacral joint, this segment of the spine is located right below the beltline. It’s the last section of the lower back and is where herniated discs are most likely to occur. L5 refers to the last bone in the lower back and S1 refers to the triangle-shaped bone that lies beneath it, the sacrum.

L5-S1 disc herniation occurs when a disc slips, ruptures, or bulges out of place. Although a herniated disc occurs in your spine, it causes more than back problems. Neck, arm, and leg pain can also result from a herniated disc.

How can a car accident cause a bulging disc?

The force of impact from a car accident can cause vertebrae to push into the spinal cord and become compressed. This is common in rear-end car accidents because the occupants in the front vehicle are absorbing the majority of the accident’s force from behind, meaning the back and spine are the most at risk of injury. L5-S1 disc herniation is also common in side-impact crashes because a T-bone accident can cause a person’s spine to jerk and twist beyond its normal range of motion.

It's also common to suffer a bulging disc in the neck after a car accident. The trauma of a crash can cause the discs in the cervical spine to bulge or stretch beyond their regular position between the vertebrae, causing severe pain. In some instances, the ruptured disc can also put pressure on the surrounding nerve roots. This can cause neck pain, restricted range of motion in the neck, shoulder pain, chest pain, pain in the arms and chest, or numbness in the arms and fingers.

Symptoms of a herniated disc

You should always seek immediate medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t have any noticeable pain or symptoms. Adrenaline could be masking a serious injury, and if you wait too long to get checked out, you could compromise both your health and your potential legal case.

Whether you are examined at the crash scene by an EMT or paramedic, transported to a hospital emergency room, or go to a doctor on your own, you need a medical professional to give you a proper diagnosis.

Common signs that you may have a herniated disc include:

  • Pain and numbness, generally only on one side of the body
  • Arm and leg pain
  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
  • Tingling sensations
  • Pain triggered from coughing, sneezing, or other sudden movements
  • Unexplained weaknesses like stumbling or inability to lift/grip items

Some people may suffer a herniated disc and show no symptoms. Again, this is why it’s critical to get checked out by a doctor after a car accident, as symptoms and pain can vary from person to person.

Diagnosing and treating a herniated disc

Medical experts can detect a herniated disc through different image scanning and tests, such as:

  • CT Scan – A CT scan is a combination of many X-rays taken from different angles to generate a full image of the spine. One X-ray alone cannot detect a herniated disc but is useful to rule out broken bones and infections.
  • MRI – The best way to detect a herniated disc is through an MRI. Radio waves and magnetic fields are used to pinpoint the affected disc. An EMG is another test used to pinpoint nerve damage.
  • Myelogram – X-rays are taken after a special dye is injected into the spinal fluid. This test looks for pressure on the spinal cord or nerves that come from a herniated disc.

Treatment for a bulging disc in the back or neck after a car accident can range from pain medication and physical therapy to more elaborate surgery. Fusion surgery, for example, is when two vertebrae are fused together to help relieve pain. Other operations include a discectomy, which involves removing the bulging or damaged portion of the disc; laminectomy (removing bone to relieve nerve pressure); and an artificial disc implant.

Your herniated disc settlement needs to cover all your needs

If you or a loved one has suffered a herniated disc from a car accident that was not your fault, you shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for your current or future medical expenses. The cost of treating a herniated disc can be substantial due to the long-lasting effects of the injury, and insurance companies only care about settling your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. That’s why you need an experienced attorney in your corner to help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.

Let attorney John S. Williams and his dedicated legal team fight for you. We know how to investigate accidents and build winning cases. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you. Our office is located in New Orleans.

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