A herniated disc, also called a slipped disc, is a serious injury commonly suffered in car accidents. This condition, while not a medical emergency, can cause serious health issues, affect your ability to work, run your household, or do the things you love to do.
The disc is a jelly filled cushion that lies between the vertebrae in the spine. When it herniates, the jelly pushes through its casing which can put pressure on nearby nerves. If this occurs, you may experience numbness or tingling and pain radiating through the parts of the body affected by compressed nerves. If the herniation is in the lower back, you may feel pain down your leg, while if the injury is to the neck, you may feel the pain and numbness through the shoulder and arm. Weakness may accompany the pain and numbness, making it difficult to walk properly or lift objects.
A physical exam will be necessary to diagnose the injury and may require a CT Scan, MRI, or Myelogram. You may also require an electromyogram and nerve conduction test to analyze if electrical impulses are traveling properly along the nerve and determine the location of the damage.
The treatment for herniated disc generally includes gentle exercises, physical limitations, medications to alleviate pain, relax affected muscles, and reduce swelling. It may take weeks to mitigate the symptoms of this condition and you may need physical therapy Surgery may be warranted for those whose symptoms continue past six weeks. Depending on the extent of the damage, an orthopedic specialist may remove the part of the disc that is protruding, or in a worst-case scenario, the entire disc may be removed, and the vertebrae fused together.
Where Things Get Tricky
If you are in a car accident, and you suspect your back or spine has been injured, it is important that you see a medical specialists because they will understand your injury better, and will be able to tell you the likelihood of your needing extended physical therapy, a longer period of rehabilitation, or surgical intervention. You need to know the expected duration of treatment and recovery, so you know how much compensation you need to cover current and future medical expenses.
This is particularly important in cases of herniated disc because the standard treatment may take up to six weeks before surgery is considered and by that time you may have already reached an agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
It is in your best interest to seek experienced legal counsel for these types of injuries to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation you need and deserve.