Sometimes called a slipped or ruptured disk, a herniated disk injury can cause chronic pain and limited mobility. Disk herniation is often the result of gradual age-related wear and tear, with overweight people and those with a family history of the problem being most at risk. However, traumatic events such as a car accident, slip and fall, or blow to the back can also cause a herniated disk. When the event causing your injury is linked to another party's negligence, you can seek compensation for related-expenses.
About Herniated Disk Injuries
A herniated disk occurs when a piece of the spinal column that separates your vertebrae moves out of place. These spinal disks act as cushions to allow for free movement in the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine).
After a car accident, it's vital that you seek medical attention. Any unusual symptoms shouldn't be brushed off as minor concerns. Don't simply wait to see if your symptoms disappear on their own. These symptoms could include:
- A herniated disk typically creates pain, numbness, weakness, tingling, or muscle tightness.
- A herniated disk in the back generally creates symptoms in the buttocks, thighs, and calves.
- A herniated disk in the neck typically creates pain in the shoulders and arms.
However, symptoms related to car or truck accident trauma might not appear immediately. The adrenaline rush the body experiences after the initial impact can often mask symptoms for several hours or even days.
In very rare cases, disk herniation can compress the cauda equina. Compression of this group of long nerve roots in the spinal cord can cause incontinence; difficulty urinating even with a full bladder; loss of sensation to the point where you can't perform daily activities; or paralysis. This is considered a medical emergency.
A physical exam to check reflexes, muscle strength, walking ability, and the ability to feel various sensations on the skin is often sufficient enough to diagnose a herniated disk. Imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs can also be used to diagnose the problem. X-rays can't diagnose a herniated disk, but doctors sometimes order them to rule out problems such as infection, broken bones, or spinal alignment issues.
To determine the extent of the damage, doctors sometimes use electromyograms and nerve conduction studies. These tests allow for an examination of how well electrical impulses are moving along the body's nerve tissue.
Back injury treatment for a herniated disk depends entirely on the discomfort you are experiencing. If your pain is minimal, over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be all that is needed. For more serious cases, narcotic pain medication, muscle relaxers, cortisone injections, or anticonvulsants can be used to alleviate symptoms.
Physical therapy can be helpful for treating a herniated disk, since a therapist can show you exercises to minimize pain and offer suggestions for how to modify your daily routine to avoid creating additional symptoms.
Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, massage, yoga, and acupuncture have also been shown to ease the chronic pain associated with a herniated disk. These options may be preferred by people who wish to avoid pain medication due to concerns about side effects.
Surgery is only needed when a patient is experiencing serious pain that can't be controlled with medication or physical therapy or if there is a compression of the cauda equina.
Seeking Compensation for a Herniated Disk
If you've been diagnosed with a herniated disk following a car accident, you're entitled to compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to advocate for your needs is the best way to maximize your potential compensation in this type of personal injury claim. Your attorney can line up medical documentation for your injuries, locate any relevant experts to testify, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault are committed to helping Louisiana residents who've suffered serious car accident injuries receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.