Neck, back, and spine injuries are common injuries associated with trauma to the body arising from a car accident, trucking accident, slip and fall accident and many other accidents. Our Atlanta injury attorneys have handled thousands of injury cases throughout Georgia. The key to any good injury case is the clients focus on treating his or her injuries immediately and following the doctor’s treatment plan. Below is some information regarding accident injuries you may find helpful.
Our Atlanta injury lawyers can help. The most common accident injury is an injury to the spinal discs. These discs are located along the spinal column which runs from the top of the neck, extending from the brain to the lower part of the back down to the coccyx. The spine is divided into 3 areas:
• Cervical – the neck
• Thoracic – the mid-back
• Lumbar. – the lower back
• Spinal Injuries
There are many different terms used to describe spinal disc injuries and associated pain. The most common terms include:
• Herniated disc (or herniated disk)
• Bulging disc
• Ruptured disc
• Slipped disc
• Collapsed disc
• Disc protrusion
• Disc degeneration
• Degenerative disc disease
• Compression Fracture
• Pinched nerve
• Herniated Disc
A herniated or ruptured disc means that a disc bulge has opened up and the gel like material inside the disc has actually come out of the disc. This injury is a more serious situation and frequently involves severe compression on a nerve.Herniated discs can affect how you’re able to perform everyday tasks and can cause severe pain in everything you do. Treatment from your medical provider will be based on a number of factors, including the nature of your condition, the degree to which it’s affecting your lifestyle and the level of pain that you are experiencing. X-rays will only show a picture of the hard tissue, the spinal column, or the bones in the arms and the legs and other parts of the anatomy. X-Rays will not detect disc herniations or bulges. It is very common for hospitals to take X-Rays to detect fractures but not take MRIs to detect disc herniations. In order to actually see a picture of the herniated disc or the soft tissue, your medical provider will either have to take a CT scan or an MRI of the injured region. An MRI is a magnetic resonance imaging and cab very costly. Your body actually goes inside the MRI machine while you remain very still in order to get a reading.
A bulging disc is when the material inside the disc starts to push through the outside of the disc, but does not come out of the disc. This can still cause a very serious condition if the bulge is pressing upon the nerve.
A pinched nerve refers to when a herniated disc or other back problem compresses a nerve root. Depending on where the disc herniation or protrusion occurs, it may impinge upon either the exiting nerve root or the traversing nerve root. When a person has a symptomatic herniated disc, it is not the disc space itself that hurts, but rather the disc herniation is pinching a nerve in the spine. The pinched nerve produces pain that is called “radicular” pain (e.g., nerve root pain, or sciatica from a lumbar herniated disc, or arm pain from a cervical herniated disc). Nerves run down the entire length to the spine. These nerves exit through small holes on both sides of the spine at each level. These are called nerve roots.
After exiting the spine, these nerve roots branch out a passing through different parts of our body. For example, nerves that exit out of the cervical (think neck) spine travel down through the arms, hands and fingers. If you have an spinal cord injury that pinches a cervical nerve root, you therefore will likely experience pain and other symptoms through the arms and hands (radiculopathy). Similarly, an injury that pinches lumbar nerve roots can cause pain that radiates down through the leg and sometimes all the way into the foot (radiculopathy). There is no spinal cord in the lumbar spine. Therefore, injuries affecting the lumbar region, which includes the lumbar spine and sacral region of the spine (called the lumbosacral region) usually cause nerve root problems instead of spinal cord injury. The nerve roots are numbered for the corresponding level of the spine at which they exit.
The term “ruptured disc” is a catch-all term. It encompasses a variety of related conditions affecting the structural integrity of the disc. A ruptured disk is a condition in which part or all of the gelatinous central portion of a disk (the nucleus pulposus) is forced through a weakened part of the disk. A ruptured disk is one cause of radiculopathy and sciatica. Most ruptured disk injuries takes place in the lumbar area of the spine. Lumbar disc herniation occurs 15 times more often than cervical disc herniation. It is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. The cervical discs are affected 8% of the time and the upper-to-mid-back (thoracic) discs only 1 to 2% of the time.
Discs in your spine do not actually “slip.” They may split or rupture. This can cause the disk to fail and allow the gel of the disc to escape into the surrounding tissue. The leaking gel like substance can place pressure on the spinal cord or on a single nerve fiber and cause pain either around the damaged disc or anywhere along the area controlled by that nerve. This condition is also known as a herniated, ruptured, prolapsed, or slipped disc.
A collapsed disc occurs when pressure on the spine crushes the disc. It will render the disc completely ineffective and limit movement.
When a herniated disc or prolapsed disc injury presses on a nerve causing pain to radiate along the nerve to another area of the body, this is called radiculopathy or radicular pain. You may see in your medical records something to the effect of “the patient has a herniated disc at the L4-L5 level and causing L4 radiculopathy (the number again depending on where the disc herniation occurs and which nerve root is affected). Sciatica is a medical diagnosis often used. This simply means the patient is experiencing pain from an injury pressing on the sciatic nerve. The largest single nerve in the human body, the sciatic nerve exits from each side of the lower spine down the buttock and back of the thigh ending in the foot.
Sciatica pain can result when the nerve roots in the lower spine are pinched, compressed, or impinged. Most often, sciatica is caused when the L5 or S1 nerve root in the lower spine is pinched, compression, or impinged by a herniated or bulging disc. When this happens, pain radiates into the rear and back of the thigh and calf, and occasionally may extend down to the foot. Numbness, tingling, and/or a burning or prickling sensation are also common symptoms of sciatica. Sometimes, sciatica is caused by a simple irritation to the nerve and will get better with time and conservative medical treatment and care. However, some sciatica symptoms may indicate a potentially serious injury to the sciatic nerve: The sciatic nerve supplies sensation and strength to the leg as well as the reflexes of the leg. It connects the spinal cord with the outside of the thigh, the hamstring muscles in the back of the thighs, and muscles in the lower leg and feet. As such, when the sciatic nerve is impaired it can lead to muscle weakness in the leg and/or, numbness or tingling.
A disc protrusion is commonly referred to as a disc bulge. A disc protrusion occurs when the spinal disc and the associated ligaments remain in tact, but press outward against the nerves in the spine.
Disc Degeneration / Degenerative Disc Disease
Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging. Over time, all people will exhibit changes in their discs consistent with a greater or lesser degree of degeneration. However, not all people will develop symptoms of disc degeneration. Degenerative disc disease is quite variable in its nature and severity amongst different people. Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back and the neck region. Besides being caused by a herniated disc, disc degeneration can be caused by other conditions such as osteoarthritis (the breakdown of the tissue that protects and cushions joints) and spinal stenosis (the narrowing of the spinal canal, the open space in the spine that holds the spinal cord). These conditions may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves which may lead to pain and possibly affecting nerve function.
Compression Fracture of the Spine
Compression fractures of the back are broken vertebrae (discs). In a compression fracture of the vertebrae, the bone tissue of the vertebral body collapses. More than one vertebra may be affected. A compression fracture may be caused by osteoporosis or trauma to the back. When the fracture occurs as a result of osteoporosis, the vertebrae in the thoracic (chest) and lower spine are usually affected. The symptoms may be worse with walking. A person may receive a compression fracture of the spine from a traumatic force, when the soft bone in the vertebral body is compressed down. The injury can be much more serious when the nerves going down through the spine become injured.
Low Back Pain
Low back pain is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits in the United States. Approximately one quarter of U.S. adults reported having low back pain lasting at least 1 whole day in the past 3 months, and 7.6% reported at least 1 episode of severe acute low back pain within a 1-year period. Low back pain is also very costly: Total incremental direct health care costs attributable to low back pain in the U.S. were estimated at $26.3 billion in 1998. In addition, indirect costs related to days lost from work are substantial, with approximately 2% of the U.S. work force compensated for back injuries each year. Many patients have self-limited episodes of acute low back pain and do not seek medical care.
Among those who do seek medical care, pain, disability, and return to work typically improve rapidly in the first month. However, up to one third of patients report persistent back pain of at least moderate intensity 1 year after an acute episode, and 1 in 5 report substantial limitations in activity. Approximately 5% of the people with back pain disability account for 75% of the costs associated with low back pain.*
Depression and Chronic Back Pain
It has been repeatedly reported that depression is the leading emotional effect resulting from chronic back pain. The diagnosis is typically major depression. Major depression, sometimes referred to as clinical depression, is much worse than normal depression. Major depression is thought to be four times greater in people with chronic back pain than in the general population If you are suffering from any of these ailments as a result of an auto accident, truck accident, or drunk driving related accident call (770) 744-0890 or contact a skilled Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney at Boling Rice, LLC today and see if you are entitled to compensation.