Brian White | November 16, 2020 | Auto Accidents
Car accidents and falls can result in a variety of back injuries and spine injuries. A common injury caused by car wrecks and falls is a herniated disc. Herniated discs should be taken seriously, as they can worsen and become debilitating without medical treatment.
What is a Spinal Disc?
Herniated discs are also referred to by several other terms. You might be more familiar with terms such as ruptured disc, bulging disc, torn disc, collapsed disc, protruding disc, or slipped disc.
Understanding the cause of a herniated spinal disc and the difference between extrusion and protrusion can be helpful as you seek medical treatment and prepare to file a personal injury claim.
Discs are located between the spinal bones (vertebrae). The discs cushion the spinal column and allow you to bend and move.
Spinal discs are composed of two parts. The other section of the disc is the annulus fibrosus. It is a thick layer that protects and contains the inner gel-like material.
The inner section of the spinal disc is the nucleus pulposus. It provides the “cushion” for the spinal bones.
What is a Herniated Spinal Disc?
A herniated spinal disc occurs when the outer wall of the disc ruptures or tears. The inner gel-like portion of the disc pushes or leaks out into the spinal column. The pressure from the bulging disc or the gel-like material coming into contact with spinal nerves can cause chronic back pain.
There are several causes of herniated discs. Automobile accidents and falls are two common personal injury accidents that can cause herniated discs. Construction site falls and accidents are other common causes of herniated discs.
Spinal Disc Extrusion vs. Spinal Disc Protrusion
When the inner gel-like substance of the spinal disc herniates, it can do so in two ways. In most cases, a disc herniation begins with a protrusion and could continue to an extrusion.
Spinal Disc Protrusions
Spinal disc protrusions are commonly referred to as bulging discs. The outer portion of the disc does not tear or rupture. However, the disc protrudes outward and presses against the spinal nerves.
The most common symptom of a disc protrusion is nerve pain. However, it can be difficult to determine the cause of the pain because the pain tends to radiate to other areas.
For example, pressure on the sciatic nerve can cause shooting pains and severe aches down through the buttocks to the back of the leg. Some individuals could also experience tingling, numbness, or weakness in the affected areas.
Severe cases of disc protrusion could cause other problems. The protruding disc could result in bladder or bowel problems. Weakness could prevent a person from performing some daily activities.
Spinal Disc Extrusions
A disc extrusion occurs when the outer layer of the disc ruptures or tears. The opening allows the inner gel-like substance to spill out into the spinal column. The part of the disc that leaked out presses on the surrounding spinal cord nerves.
The pressure causes pain. As with a protrusion, the pain can radiate and spread down through the leg. Because the spinal cord nerves are very sensitive, a small amount of leakage from the disc can cause chronic pain as it presses on the nerves and soft tissues.
Diagnosing and Treating Spinal Disc Protrusions and Extrusions
Doctors use a variety of methods to diagnose a herniated disc. The doctor typically begins with a physical examination to assess the patient’s ability to walk, pain level, reflexes, and sensory responses to touch.
A physician might use one or more imagining tests to diagnose a herniated disc. The doctor might order an X-ray, MRI, or CT Scan. In severe cases, the doctor might order a myelogram, electromyography, or nerve conduction study.
Treatment for a herniated disc depends on the severity of the pain and other symptoms. Doctors tend to begin with conservative treatments, such as pain medications, muscle relaxers, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. The treatments target the symptoms instead of healing the herniated disc.
Surgery is generally only used in cases in which a person does not respond to other treatment, continues to have trouble walking or standing, or has a loss of bladder or bowel control. Surgeons may remove the protruding or extruding portion of the disc to relieve the pain and other symptoms.
Filing Personal Injury Claims for Herniated Discs
If an accident or trauma caused your herniated disc, you might be entitled to compensation for your injury and damages. However, proving that you have a herniated disc and that the accident caused the condition could be complicated.
You need extensive medical documentation of the injury. You must also link the injury to the car accident, fall, or other trauma. Working with a personal injury lawyer can be beneficial.
A lawyer understands personal injury laws. He works with your doctors to obtain the medical evidence necessary to support your claim while gathering evidence to prove that another person’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your injury.