Herniated Disc Injury

Herniated disc is one type of neck injury or back injury common to Queens, Bronx and New York City accident victims. A herniated disc injury is common in a car accident or construction accident.

A person’s spine is made up of bones (called vertebrae) that curve from the bottom of the back, or hip area, up to the neck and base of the brain. These vertebrae bones protect the spinal cord, which runs through the middle of the vertebrae and carries nerves down from the brain to other parts of the body. If the spine’s vertebrae were solid, we could not bend or twist or turn our heads, etc. The vertebrae are separated by round flexible cushions, called discs. These allow us to twist and turn and so forth.

The vertebrae are numbered, so that each one has a little address. The spine has four “neighborhoods.” At the top of the spine is the cervical region, with vertebrae numbered C1, at the top, down to C7. Then in the middle of the spine is the thoracic region, numbered T1 through T12. At the next-to-bottom is the lumbar region, numbered L1 to L5. At the very bottom of the spine, near the hips, is the single S1 vertebrae. See the chart, below.

Herniated Disc Graphic

If you suffer a herniated disc injury to a disc in your spine, it is referred to by an “address,” made up of the vertebrae (or bones) above and below it. Sometimes in a car accident a person may injure a disc in the neck, between C5 and C6. This often happens in a rear-end collision – even if the accident victim is wearing a seatbelt, because the force of the accident can force the head to “whip” back and forth. This is where we get the name “whiplash injury.” Now the doctor and any experienced New York personal injury lawyer, knows the location of the injury.

Many lower back injuries occur between L4 and L5, or even at the next lower disc, known as L5-S1.

So the vertebrae are soft and cushy, and have a liquid inside. If the a vertebra is herniated, that means the force of the accident caused an injury that made some of that liquid leak – visualize a jelly-filled donut being squeezed. When that occurs, a few things can happen. First, the disc can harden and lose its ability to act as a shock absorber. In the worst herniated disc accident cases, the disc stops doing its job entirely, and the bones of the spine can rub together. Ouch. Also, the disc liquid can press and press against one or more of the nerves that run through and next to the spine. This can irritate the nerve and cause a nerve damage injury or radiculopathy, which can result in pain, numbness or tingling down the arms and/or legs. Injury to different discs can affect different parts of the body, which I discuss in an article on nerve injury or radiculopathy.

A herniated disc may also be called a “slipped disc” or “disc protrusion” or “ruptured disc” or “herniated nucleus pulposus.” A bulging disc injury is similar to, but less severe than, a herniated disc injury. A bulging disc may not leak liquid, it may just change shape a little – like if you squeeze a jelly donut, but not until the jelly leaks out.

Not all herniated discs cause symptoms or pain. And while some accident victims recover from a herniated disc injury with rest, or physical therapy or treatment by a chiropractor, in extreme cases some herniated discs need surgery to repair and reinforce the spine. Click here to see a medical drawing showing surgical repair of a cervical (neck) herniated disc injury, prepared for the lawsuit of an accident victim represented by my office.

To see a medical drawing showing surgical repair of a lumbar (back) herniated disc injury, prepared for the lawsuit of an accident victim represented by my office, click here.

Most difficult are the cases where an accident victim may have had a prior or pre-existing back injury or herniated disc injury, and then has a new accident, making it worse. Insurance carriers try to blame the new injury on the old condition, and take the position that there is no new injury, that the herniated disc or back injury is the same as the client had before. It takes skillful handling of the medical aspects of an accident victim’s case by an experienced Queens or Bronx accident attorney to prove that there is a new injury that is causing pain and affecting the injured person.

For your serious personal injury, you need legal representation from a qualified personal injury attorney.

Contact us for your free consultation.

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