Based on an approximation made possible through various medical journals, about 2% of all Americans will suffer a herniated disc injury at some point in their life. A herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc – which is located in between vertebrae – protrudes, often due to an injury.
What is causing all of these herniated discs, though? The data here is less clear, but one of the leading causes is believed to be car accidents. In particular, rear-end collisions seem to be more likely to cause a herniated disc because of the direction of the impact. The sudden surge forward puts a large amount of force onto the spine, which can fracture a vertebra and cause a herniated disc.
What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
For some people who suffer from a herniated disc, they only experience mild pain for a short while before it naturally heals. For others, the situation is much worse. Depending on the location and severity of a herniated disc, the symptoms can become debilitating and prolonged.
Symptoms of a moderate to severe herniated disc include:
- Chronic back pain
- Reduced mobility and muscle weakness
- Sharp pain when moving in certain ways
- Numbness radiating from the affected vertebra
- Walking difficulties
- Insomnia due to constant nerve stimulation
To get a better understanding of what a herniated disc is doing to a patient’s health, a doctor can order a number of imaging tests. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are commonly used for this purpose. If a herniated disc is severe, a myelogram might be used to understand exactly how it is affecting nearby nerves. Myelograms work by injecting dye into the spinal column before an X-ray, which allows a clearer depiction of the spinal cord and its nerve systems.
Further nerve tests can be used if imaging tests are insufficient. Electrical impulses can be sent through the spine to gauge nerve reactions. Such tests can be painful or uncomfortable, but the data gathered through them is often invaluable.
Can a Herniated Disc Be Treated?
Herniated discs are possible to treat, but the extent and type of treatment can vary dramatically between two cases. Doctors often need several checkups and tests before being able to reach an accurate prognosis and treatment plan for a patient with a herniated disc.
Mild to moderate herniated discs might be treatable with:
- Painkillers: Various over-the-counter medications and prescription painkillers can be used to make the healing process more comfortable. For some patients, ibuprofen or acetaminophen is enough to help them through the worst pain.
- Injections: If it becomes clear that painkillers are not doing enough to alleviate the pain caused by a herniated disc, then a doctor might recommend cortisone injections into the injured back region.
- Therapy: Physical therapy at regular intervals can work wonders to alleviate the pressure and pain of a herniated disc. It is common for therapy to be recommended for at least a few months to ensure everything has healed correctly, even in mild herniated disc cases.
Severe herniated discs often require more intense treatments, such as:
- Opioids: Doctors do not like prescribing opioids without a good reason, but a debilitating herniated disc often warrants such a prescription.
- Lifelong therapy: Rehabilitative therapy can be recommended for the rest of a patient’s life – such as once a month or so – if a herniated disc is severe enough to have caused permanent nerve damage in the area.
- Surgery: When nothing else is working, spinal or back surgery can be used as a final option. Surgeons might be able to correct the injury by removing the protruding portion of the disk or the entire disc or even complete a spinal fusion. Surgeries always carry risks, so be sure to talk to your doctor about other alternatives first.
Who Pays for Your Herniated Disc Treatments?
If you suffered a herniated disc due to a car accident that was not your fault, then you can demand financial compensation from the other driver’s insurance company. The bodily injury policy that they held can be used to pay for your necessary medical treatments and lost wages, up to the policy cap. When the cap is reached but you still need compensation, your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy will activate to provide what has been left unpaid, up to that policy’s cap.
Of course, being owed damages from an insurance company is much different than actually receiving those damages. Herniated disc treatments can get expensive because it can take months or years of therapy and care before the patient starts to feel better. Insurance companies always put up a stronger fight when there are larger compensation amounts at stake, so you should expect a challenge when you need to file a car accident claim that involves a herniated disc back injury.
How Do You Sue for a Herniated Disc?
As mentioned, auto insurance companies will be ready to challenge your claim in an instant if you mention that you have suffered a herniated disc. To bring forth your case with confidence, you should team up with an experienced personal injury and auto accident attorney in your area.
People in Waco, Texas know they can turn to the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C. and our attorneys. We are available 24/7 to take your call because we know that no one can predict when a serious car accident will happen. Discuss your case with a professional and compassionate legal team by filling out an online contact form now, or by calling.