If you’ve suffered a herniated disk, you’re probably aware of some of the painful and challenging effects of these injuries. However, if your injury is recent or you’re trying to determine if back pain after an accident was caused by a herniated disk, you might not understand the full impact of the problem.
Healthy disks are essential to a healthy spine. A herniation can reduce your mobility and quality of life significantly. Here’s what you need to know about how these injuries happen, how they impact your life, and what you can do if an accident causes a herniated disk and derails your plans.
Herniated Disks: What They Are
Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae. These small bones are carefully stacked to support your ribs, arms, and legs, protect your internal organs and spinal cord, and allow you to move, bend, and twist. To protect these bones and the delicate nerves of your spinal cord, they are separated by a cushion known as a spinal disk.
These disks are similar to gel-filled stress balls. They consist of a soft center contained by a tough and rubbery exterior layer. Usually, this system makes your disks flexible but resilient. They can cushion your spine from impacts and protect your vertebrae from grinding against each other as you move.
However, if something goes wrong, the inner layer of your disk may start to bulge out through the outer layer. This breaks up the smooth, regular surface of the disk. Depending on where the bulge, or herniation, occurs, it can compress nerves, irritate surrounding tissue, and potentially reduce the flexibility of your spine.
You can herniate any disk in your spine. However, herniations are most common in the lower spine and the neck due to their flexibility and lack of support from the ribs.
Symptoms from herniated or slipped disks include:
- Pain in your back where the herniation occurred that may feel “burning” or “sharp.”
- Pain that shoots from your back or neck into a limb. Herniations in your neck often cause shooting pains that radiate down one arm into your hand, while lower back herniations may cause pain that spreads down your leg into your foot.
- Numbness or tingling in one arm or leg that may be triggered by moving your back or neck.
The reason for most pain or numbness after herniating a disk is the compression of a nerve. Herniations that cause the disk to bulge against the spinal cord can cause nerves to misfire. Depending on the exact size and location of the bulge, this can either cause pain or lead to numbness, tingling, or difficulty controlling the limb in question.
Causes of Herniated Disks
Herniated disks often seem to appear out of nowhere after an accident at work, a car crash, or a nasty fall. However, in most cases, these incidents did not cause a perfectly healthy disk to suddenly herniate. Instead, they aggravated an existing hernia or caused a disk that was at risk to finally herniate.
This does not mean that the person liable for the accident is free from liability for a herniated disk. In many cases, a hernia can go unnoticed for years, not causing pain or other symptoms. Suppose an accident like a fall or crash suddenly aggravates the issue, making it difficult to work or handle daily tasks. In that case, the party responsible for your accident is still liable for your pain, suffering, and financial losses.
How a Back Injury Can Change Your Life
People with healthy spines rarely think about how important they are to their daily lives. A single back injury can impact your ability to work, perform routine tasks, and enjoy your life. The most significant adverse impacts of a back injury include the following:
- Medical bills: The costs associated with doctor appointments, physical therapy, and potentially even surgery to repair the damage to your disk and help you regain function.
- Lost wages: If your injury prevents you from working, you also lose the income from the days you cannot go to your job.
- Pain and suffering: You deserve compensation for the time you cannot enjoy your life due to shooting, burning pain in your back, and inability to move the way you used to.
Pursuing Compensation After an Accident Caused a Herniated Disk
If you have been in an accident that led to a herniated disk, you have grounds to take legal action against the liable party. Here’s how to seek justice for your pain and suffering if it was caused by someone else’s negligence:
- Collect your medical records: If you didn’t have a herniated disk before your accident, your medical records will show this. If you did have a documented herniation before the accident, you could show that it did warrant medical treatment.
- Document the impact on your daily life: Regardless of whether the herniation was caused or aggravated by accident, you’ll need to show that it harmed you. Explain in your own words how it prevents you from living your daily life, and consider collecting testimony from friends, family, coworkers, and medical professionals about how the injury impacts your abilities.
- Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer: Finally, you’ll need to prove that the other party was liable for your accident. The best way to accomplish this is by working with a skilled attorney.
At the Law Office of Reuben J. Donig, we put your needs first. We make every effort to pursue fair compensation for your injury, regardless of the cause. Learn more about how we can help you seek the damages you need for your herniated disk by scheduling your consultation today.