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Herniated Disc After a Car Accident

What to Do When a Car Accident Caused a Herniated Disc?

Based on recent studies, car crashes are the leading cause of death in America for people aged 1-54 years old.  In fact, more than 46,000 people die every year in crashes on US roadways.  Car accidents can impact a person’s life in various ways.  You could sustain injuries such as broken bones, sprains, bruises, and even spinal injuries.  One of the most painful spinal injuries caused by car crashes is a herniated disc.  Read on to find out what causes a herniated disc and how you can get compensated for it.

What is a Herniated Disc and How Do Vehicular Accidents Cause Spinal Injuries?

Spinal discs are circles of tissue in between the vertebrae of your spinal column.  These discs hold your vertebrae together, assist in motion, and act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae.  The spinal discs are composed of a tough outer shell that surrounds a liquid center.  These discs are like jelly donuts.  So, if a disc gets injured as the result of a trauma in a car crash, then the center can leak out of the disc.  This rupture is called a herniated disc.  It’s a serious injury that may cause weakness or even chronic pain. 

Do note that herniated injuries are rarely diagnosed in the emergency room after a car accident.  Spinal discs are invisible on an x-ray so you need a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to be properly diagnosed.  Myelography, discography, and electromyography are also used to diagnose compromised discs.  Although, medical professionals agree that these diagnostic tests can’t determine the amount of pain a victim is experiencing.  There’s no clear-cut correlation between the degree of herniation and the patient’s pain symptoms because of the complex nature of the spinal column and nervous system.

The Most Common Type of Herniated Disc Injury from Vehicular Accidents

The cervical spine, or neck, is the most common location to find a herniated disc as a result of a car crash.  In a vehicular accident, most of your body is restrained by the seat belt.  Your neck, however, isn’t restrained and can whip backward, forward, or sideways which causes injury.  The most commonly injured vertebrae are the C4-C5 and C5-C6 pairs.

If you sustain a C4-C5 injury, then you usually complain of pain or weakness in your shoulders or deltoids.  Your C4 and C5 nerves provide motor function to the muscles of your arm and shoulder.  A herniated disc in this specific area generally results in nerve root impingement, and if these nerves are compromised, the result is usually muscle weakness.  C4-C5 cases have higher value when you have a physically demanding occupation because the injury will impact your ability to work.

On the other hand, a C5-C6 injury typically causes tingling, numbness, and radiating pain down to or near your thumb.  You may also suffer from generalized pain, stiffness, and a restricted range of motion.  A C5-C6 injury can also cause weakness in your biceps and wrist extensor muscles.

Is A Herniated Disc Injury Difficult To Prove In A Lawsuit?

The answer is no.  A herniated disc can be accurately diagnosed through a physical exam or an MRI.  Whether the plaintiff has a herniated disc is not disputed in most cases.  Typically,  the focus is on whether the disc herniation was caused by the car crash or by pre-existing, degenerative medical conditions.

If you or a family member were injured in a car accident, then we can help you get fair compensation.  Contact us for a free case evaluation. 304-594-1800