Was Your Spinal Cord Injured in an Accident?
Many people think of herniated discs as an injury that happens due to lifting heavy objects. While this is one cause of a herniated disc (also called a ruptured or slipped disc), these injuries can also be caused by traumatic impacts to the spine. We have helped clients who suffered herniated discs in slip and falls, car crashes, or other accidents.
If you are experiencing back pain after an accident, you should see a doctor right away. Even if it is not a herniated disc, you may be suffering from whiplash or another injury to your neck or back. Spinal cord injuries and back pain may get worse if left untreated, meaning they can continue to interfere with your life. Anyone who was hurt in an accident caused by someone else has the right to compensation for their injuries, so do not put off your treatment.
Once you have been examined by a doctor, it’s time to reach out to a trusted attorney. Our team at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP has recovered tens of millions of dollars for accident victims in the San Jose area. Clients who come to us know they are getting top-tier service thanks to the personal attention and full team support our firm offers.
What Causes a Herniated, Slipped, or Ruptured Disc?
Herniated discs often happen after a traumatic impact like that experienced in a fall or car accident. Discs sit between your vertebrae to absorb stress, but when they experience too much strain, the hard outer ring of a disc may crack or bulge. A damaged disc may press against your spinal cord or other nearby nerves and release chemicals that cause nerve inflammation. The damage to the disc itself does not hurt—it is the effects on the rest of your spine that cause the pain and discomfort.
Diagnosing a Herniated Disc
The symptoms of herniated discs vary depending on where the damage occurs.
Herniated Cervical (Neck) Disc
With a herniated neck disc, you may experience pain that:
- Sits near or between your shoulder blades
- Travels down your shoulder, arm, and sometimes even to your hand and fingers
- Affects the back and/or sides of your neck
- Increases when you bend or turn your neck
Depending on the type of pressure a herniated disc is putting on your nerves, you may also experience numbness or tingling in your arms.
Herniated Lumbar (Lower Back) Disc
When you suffer a herniated disc in your lower back, pain may not be the only symptom. Some patients report
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling in the legs and/or feet
- Back pain
Also caused by a herniated disc in the lower back, sciatica is a group of symptoms that occurs when the damage affects the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can be extremely painful and disruptive. Its symptoms include:
- Sharp, shooting pains in the back and down the leg
- A “burning sensation” in the back or leg
- Intermittent or constant pain
- Numbness or tingling in the back of the leg
- Weakness of the leg or foot
- A feeling of “heaviness” in the affected leg
- Pain that increases after standing or laying down for a long time
- Pain that increases when you stand up, bend forward, twist your spine, or cough
Sciatica typically only affects one leg at a time. The pain that affects the leg is often stronger below the knee, in the calf; however, it can affect your lower back, buttock, and thigh as well.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Though very rare, cauda equina syndrome can cause symptoms like:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Numbness in the saddle area (inner thighs, back of legs, and the surrounding area)
- Weakness in both legs
- Lower back pain
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should go straight to the emergency room. Failure to treat cauda equina syndrome can lead to paralysis or other lasting injuries.
Do I Need to Go to the Doctor for a Herniated Disc?
If you’re looking online for medical advice, you may see advice telling you most herniated discs heal on their own. While this is true, if you plan to bring an injury claim, you will need an official record of your injury to claim damages related to it. Therefore, we advise you to visit a doctor as soon as possible.
You should also see a doctor if your symptoms:
- Interfere with daily life
- Make it difficult to stand or walk
- Have lasted longer than a month
- Worsen over time
- Include numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in arms, hands, legs, or feet
Your doctor can not only conduct tests to arrive at an official diagnosis but also work with you on a treatment plan to help minimize pain and ensure you do not accidentally worsen your injury.
What Kind of Treatment Will I Need for a Herniated Disc?
The good news is many herniated disc injuries heal on their own or with minimal treatment. The symptoms may take a while to resolve, but 90% of patients do not need surgery. Therapeutic approaches recommended by your doctor may include anti-inflammatory pain medications, muscle relaxants, physical therapy, or steroid injections.
If you do need surgery, the type of procedure will depend on the extent of your injury. Doctors often recommend discectomy, laminectomy, artificial disc surgery, or spinal fusion.
One thing you do not want to do is avoid seeking treatment. Not only will this make it harder for you to file a claim, but untreated herniated discs can worsen (especially if your job includes physical labor) and lead to chronic pain or loss of sensation.
How Long Will My Treatment Last?
Herniated disc treatment typically lasts around 3-4 months. During this time, you may still be in pain and find it hard to keep up with all your obligations. Especially if your job involves physical labor, you will likely need to take time off work so you do not make your injury worse.
Recovery can mean paying for medications, doctor visits, and physical therapy while having reduced or even lost wages. All these damages are recoverable via an injury claim. We can help you keep records of your losses throughout the treatment process to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Our Attorneys Are Here to Help
We understand that a herniated disc can seriously disrupt your life and cause financial stress at the same time you are dealing with ongoing pain. If you need support, our team is here. We can help with every aspect of your injury claim and offer further support, including helping you find a doctor, if necessary. Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP brings a full team onto every case to ensure each client has the help they need.
For further information about herniated discs, you can visit:
- Mayo Clinic: Herniated Disc
- Cleveland Clinic: Herniated Disc (Slipped, Ruptured, or Bulging Disc)
- OrthoInfo: Herniated Disc in the Lower Back
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Herniated Disc
- Spine-Health: Lumbar Herniated Disc: What You Should Know
To learn more about your legal options, reach out to our team at any time. We pride ourselves on offering personal attention to every client who comes to us. One of our lawyers is happy to sit down and review your claim, then let you know your legal options.