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Pinched Nerve & Herniated Disc from Car Accident

Car accidents and truck accidents can lead to a herniated disc or another disc injury, as well as nerve damage.

Herniated Disc Injury

The back trauma sustained in a car accident will often cause a herniated disc injury. Symptoms of these types of back injuries may not show up for days, and the MRI needed to detect them is not commonly ordered by emergency room physicians. Our law firm has dealt with many cases involving car accident victims with slipped or herniated discs. We can assist you in seeking compensation for your blown disc from the negligent driver who caused your car accident.

Pinched Nerve From a Car Accident

Car accidents and truck accidents can lead to a herniated disc or another disc injury, as well as nerve damage. The disc injury and nerve injury can be related, such as when a slipped or herniated disc causes a pinched nerve, nerve impingement, radiculopathy, or chronic pain.

You might hear a variety of terms in reference to the back injury you are being treated for. Slipped disc, herniated disc, and bulging disc are all referring to the condition where the inner portion of the disc is protruding through the tough outer portion causing severe pain to the area. If the disc is compressing one of your spinal nerves, the pain could radiate towards other parts of your body. The most common instance of this is a slipped disc in the lower back, which pinches the nerve and causes a condition known as sciatica.

In most instances, you will feel when the disc ruptures as a popping sensation in your spinal column or neck. For some, the pain will be immediate and sharp, while for others the pain may not present itself for days. If you think you have popped a disc in a car accident, insist on a spinal MRI. This is the best diagnostic tool for the condition. If you leave the hospital without the diagnosis and return a few days later with back pain, the defense attorney for the negligent driver may try arguing that you injured your disc in another way, not in the car accident.

Bulging and Herniated Discs

The discs of the spine are the protective cushions in between the vertebras. These discs are made of two layers:

  1. Annulus fibrosis – The annulus fibrosis is the outer shell of tough, fibrous cartilage that is flexible to allow movement and while holding the vertebrae together.
  2. Nucleus pulposus – The nucleus pulposus comprises the inner part of the spinal disc made of soft cartilage, serving as a shock absorber that supports the weight of the body and also maintains the structural integrity of the spinal column.

Causes of Bulging Disc and Herniated Disc

The terms, bulging disc and herniated disc, are often used interchangeably, even though they have different causes.

  1. Bulging discs – In bulging discs, the entire disc bulges out of its normal place. It is the annulus fibrosis that often bulges out and is commonly caused by aging and is usually degenerative in nature. Bulging discs are mostly painless.
  2. Herniated discs – Herniated discs are the protruding nucleus pulposus from a crack in the annulus fibrosis. A herniated disc is a ruptured or a slipped disc and is the result of trauma.

The Difference Between Bulging Disc and Herniated Disc

The difference between a herniated disc and a bulging disc can be determined by the kind of tear seen in the annulus fibrosis by conducting an MRI scan, a discogram, or by observing how the disc reacts in the presence of a tear. Any tear occurring in the annulus fibrosis can alter the shape of a disc; however, it is the pattern of the tear that indicates if the cause is trauma-related or related to disc pathology – recent or pre-existing. There are two types of tears that are usually seen.

  1. Circumferential tears – Circumferential tears are chronic in nature and occur due to prolonged stress or strain, wherein the layers of the annulus fibrosis separate.
  2. Radial tears – Radial tears occur due to trauma when the nucleus pulposus cannot bear or absorb the shock (either in a fall or a car accident).

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Many people experience little or no symptoms from a herniated disc. It may take time for complications to present, such as a pinched nerve. A person may feel a popping sensation in the spinal column when a vertebral disc ruptures. There may be immediate and sharp pain; however, a person may not always feel pain right away. When a ruptured disc compresses the spinal nerve, the pain will radiate from the area.

Treatment for a Herniated Disc

The treatment for a herniated disc will depend on the severity of the injury and the location. A doctor will usually begin with a conservative treatment plan, combining pain management and physical therapy. Physical therapy often involves the use of heat or ice, traction, and electrical stimulation.

When Herniated Disc Surgery is Necessary

Some herniated discs will correct themselves in about six months. During that time the physician may prescribe pain medications and therapy to help in restoring the spines mobility. If the pain becomes unbearable, the physician may recommend surgery. This method of treatment is often considered only as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.

However, back surgery has certain risks and is expensive. If a herniated disc remains untreated, a person may develop chronic pain that interferes with the ability to work, to enjoy hobbies, or even to manage day-to-day activities.

Even after surgery, the pain may still be there albeit more manageable. Now is the time for car accident victims to try therapy again to help restore the flexibility of the spinal column. For some patients, full recovery is only achieved after a year of such therapy, if ever.

Not presenting itself at the initial medical exams after a car accident does not mean that a herniated disc injury did not occur from the impact. Nor does it have anything to do with the severity.

St. Louis Herniated Disc Lawyer

At The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C., attorney Chris Hoffmann has 25 years of experience handling car accident claims, including those involving herniated disc injury and pinched nerve damage. His aggressive approach to handling claims and willingness to go trial are known to many insurance companies, and we believe this leads to much better initial settlement offers from those companies.

To discuss your herniated disc or pinched nerve injury claim from a car or truck accident contact The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. today.

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