The insurance company may deny a claim for herniated disc, classing the injury as a pre-existing injury.
Spinal injuries are common in car accidents and often require immediate hospitalization. However, there may be no immediate symptoms or any visible evidence of a spinal injury. In such cases, pain in the spine could be caused by a herniated disc and present itself after the accident.
Spinal injuries caused by car accidents that do not show up immediately are difficult to prove and claim. Insurance companies tend to categorize them as pre-existing injuries and degenerative, especially in cases where the car accident victim suffers from other arthritic or degenerative conditions as well. If you have suffered a herniated disc injury from a car accident, it is important to have a clear understanding of degenerative bulging and herniating spinal discs and to be able to differentiate between the two.
Bulging and Herniated Discs
The discs of the spine are the protective cushions in between the vertebras. These discs are made of two layers:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Circumferential tears – Circumferential tears are chronic in nature and occur due to prolonged stress or strain, wherein the layers of the annulus fibrosis separate.
- 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).
Legal Assistance for Spinal Injuries
In cases of car accident-related spinal injury, the legal assistance of a St. Louis car wreck lawyer can help prove the cause of injury. Call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. at (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.