A variety of injuries, including a bulging or herniated disc, can occur during an accident in West Virginia. Initially, due to the body’s ability to temporarily mask pain by releasing additional adrenaline (i.e., the fight or flight hormone), an individual may not realize that he or she has sustained an injury. This is the reason that medical care must be sought after even the most minor accident.
Neck or Back Pain Following an Auto Accident in West Virginia
If the muscles, ligaments, tendons and/or discs in the spinal column become injured, back pain can occur. This pain may be caused by inflammation, muscle spasms, torn tendons and/or ligaments as well as from a herniated disc that is placing pressure on nerve roots. Terms commonly used to describe a herniated disc include a ruptured disc or a slipped disc. A bulging disc is similar to a herniated disc; however, a herniated disc is considered a more serious injury.
The Spinal Column
An intervertebral disc is the cushion that sits between each of the vertebrae in the spine. Intervertebral discs are essentially shock absorbers for the vertebra, with one of these mushy discs between each of them.
The intervertebral discs have an annulus, which is a strong outer ring of fibers. In addition, they have a jellylike center (i.e., the nucleus pulposus). The fibers of the annulus connect the vertebra together and the jellylike center serves as the cushion.
Visualization of a Herniated or Bulging Disc
The characteristics of a bulging or herniated disc can be compared to that of the marshmallow in the center of a s’more. As the top graham cracker is pressed into the bottom graham cracker the melted marshmallow in the middle begins to ooze out, which is what the nucleus pulposus does when it bulges or ruptures.
A Bulging Disc
If an intervertebral disc bulges, a portion of the jellylike substance has exited its original location; however, it remains within the annulus. The fact that the disc remains within the annulus reduces the likelihood of this injury leading to pain.
A Herniated, Ruptured or Slipped Disc
A herniated, slipped or ruptured disc occurs when the jellylike material exits its original location and breaks through a damaged annulus. Now that the nucleus pulposus has broken through the annulus, the likelihood of an individual experiencing pain increases.
Causes of a Bulging or Herniated Disc After an Accident in West Virginia
If too much pressure is placed on a disc all at once, it can bulge or rupture. For instance, a fall from a ladder that ends with the individual landing in a sitting position may cause excessive pressure on the spine, pushing out one (or more) of the nucleus pulposus. If the annulus is already weakened, even the slightest amount of pressure can cause a disc to herniate after a car accident.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Sometimes, a herniated disc is asymptomatic, meaning that it does not have any symptoms. However, many people who have been in a car accident, injured while working or involved in a slip and fall accident in West Virginia do experience symptoms when they have a herniated disc.
A Cervical Disc Herniation from a Car Accident
Symptoms of a herniated disc in the neck may include:
- tingling and/or numbness down the arm(s)
- muscle weakness in the arm(s)
- localized pain in the neck
- stiffness in the neck
- soreness in the neck
- pins and needles
- temperature variations
- diminished reflexes
A Disc Rupture in the Thoracic Region of the Back
While a herniated or bulging disc is possible in the thoracic region of the back, due to this region’s lack of movement, they are relatively rare.
If a herniated disc is present in the thoracic spine, symptoms may include:
- pain in the upper back and shoulders
- pain that radiates into the neck, arms and fingers
On rare occasions, a bulging or herniated thoracic disc can cause pain that radiates into the buttock, legs and feet as well as into the abdomen, and chest areas.
A Slipped Disc in the Lower Back After an Accident in West Virginia
Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lower back that can occur in one or both legs include:
- tingling and/or numbness in various areas of the leg(s)
- pain traveling in to the leg(s)
- loss of reflexes
- muscles weakness
- pain in the lower back
Diagnosing and Treating a Herniated or Bulging Disc After a Car Accident
To diagnose a bulging or herniated disc, a physician may order x-rays (to observe vertebra) and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) study (to examine soft tissues). Once a bulging or herniated disc is diagnosed, treatment can begin. Conservative treatments may include oral anti-inflammatory and pain medications, physical therapy as well as chiropractic care.
If a ruptured disc is placing pressure on the nerves that surround it, less-conservative treatments must be considered. These treatments include corticosteroid shots directly into the spinal column (epidurals) and minimally-invasive spine (MIS) surgery.
In some cases, a more drastic approach requires the removal and replacement of the slipped disc (with a cadaver bone or synthetic material). When the disc is removed and replaced, the surgeon may use screws and plates to ensure the spinal column remains stable until the spinal fusion is complete.
Following surgery, physical therapy treatments and medication will be utilized. At some point, maximum medical improvement will be reached and it will be determined whether the patient has a permanent disability. It is the extent of the injuries that determines how much of a settlement to expect for a herniated disc.
Johnstone & Gabhart, LLC, A Personal Injury Firm with 50 Years of Experience
If you have sustained a bulging or herniated disc due to the negligence of another, contact Johnstone & Gabhart, LLC, today. We realize how hard it can be to get around after sustaining an injury; therefore, we are happy to come to your home or hospital room to review your case. Let us help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries. Schedule your complimentary initial consultation by calling 877-416-5457.