Can a Car Accident Cause a Herniated Disc?

can a car accident cause a herniated disc

March 1  

Can a Car Accident Cause a Herniated Disc? What Is A Herniated Disc? What Kind of Injuries Can Be Caused In A Car Crash?

Due to unbalanced mechanical stress that is applied to the disc during the car crash, a car accident can lead to a herniated disc. This stress causes the disc to slip out of its position, thereby disturbing the nerves.

Can a car accident cause a herniated disc?  The short answer is yes.  Car accidents involve a quick acceleration and deceleration which causes a quick sppinal movement back and forth.  This quick "whiplash" movement can cause a disk bulge or hernation, which in turn compresses the nerves in the neck or back, causing pain, numbness or even paralysis.

can a car accident cause a herniated disc

Nerves from the brain run through the spine to form the spinal cord. This cord is protected by a series of discs which are called intervertebral discs. These discs are found between the vertebral bones of your spine and are filled with fluid to act as shock absorbers as you move. Also, they allow the movement of the spine without exerting any pressure on the nerves.

Perfectly formed discs do not normally impact nearby nerves. Healthy discs are important due to their proximity to the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a collection of nerves that run through the back of the human body. These nerves relay senses of pain and numbness to the brain from all over the body. If these nerves were to be disturbed by a serious spinal injury, tremendous pain and numbness would be felt.

Herniated Disc from a Car Accident: How Can it Happen?

A herniated disc is caused by any trauma that can be sustained which, in this case, a car accident. It’s basically a disc that has been moved out of its place. During the process, the disc may cut or impinge on the nerves. 

When this happens, pressure is exerted on the nerves of the spinal cord thus causing pain, numbness, or even weakness. The disc may also rupture because of physical trauma. It’s worth noting that disc herniation can be linked to nerve damage.

Disc herniation can’t be detected by X-ray as the discs are made of soft tissues. X-rays are only suited for detecting fractures in the bones or other dense foreign materials that are lodged in the body such as bullets and shrapnel. 

Most of the time, patients won’t notice disc herniation immediately after an accident if medics run X-rays in the emergency room. Either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography scan(CT scan) are often used to identify their presence. Therefore, it’s important to request a CT or MRI if you suspect to have suffered from disc herniation during an accident.

What Are Its Symptoms?

The symptoms of disc herniation vary based on where the injury took place. If it’s located on the neck region, the pain will be felt while moving the neck. The pain may also extend to your upper arm, lower arm, and fingers. 

Deep pain can also be felt on both shoulder blades. A slipped disc on the lower back may cause numbness and weakness of the leg. The same leg can experience shooting pain along its entire length. Generally, there would be a tingling sensation on the arms and feet. This is caused by nerve impingement by the slipped disk. 

A herniated disc from a car accident can be determined conclusively by MRI. If you experience sharp pain, numbness, and stinging sensations weeks or months after the car crash and an MRI confirms the presence of a herniated disc, it can safely be concluded that the disc slip was caused by the car accident. 

In some cases, doctors analyze annular tears that are caused by trauma and not by old age. If an MRI confirms the presence of both the herniated ring and annular tears, it can be correctly assumed that the car crash caused the disc herniation in question.

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How are Herniated Discs Treated?

There are various techniques for treating herniated discs. Some people will heal naturally from herniated discs caused by a car accident after six months. There are surgical and non-surgical methods too. 

Surgery is considered to be the last resort treatment procedure. Doctors often advise patients to begin with physical therapy. The physical therapy may include gentle massages, heat and ice therapy, pelvic traction, ultrasound, and simple stretching exercises. Painkillers and muscle relaxants can also be useful during physical therapy.

For surgery to be considered in the treatment of herniated disc, several factors have to be considered. Some of these factors include poor response to physical therapy, the age of the patient, and the general health of the patient. 

Risks have to be outweighed by the benefits before any surgery is considered. The most common spinal surgery for the treatment of a herniated disc is spinal fusion. In spinal fusion, sections of the spine are permanently fused to limit the motion of the spine in that area. 

Implants like metal screws are used to join two vertebrae between which the herniated disc is located. This way, the spine is stabilized. 

Another technique of treating a herniated disc is the implantation of an artificial intervertebral disc. The procedure, however, is very expensive. Unfortunately, some people never fully recover from herniated discs caused by a car accident. 

What to Do in Case You Get Involved in a Car Accident

The treatment for herniated discs is an expensive undertaking. Therefore, it’s important to diagnose a slipped disc early to get a fair settlement from the party that was directly responsible for the car crash. 

It’s highly recommended to pursue a herniated disc lawsuit if the accident was not your fault. Seeking a reputable lawyer who has handled similar cases would ensure that you get a fair argument before a magistrate.

Seeking legal representation may help you get your herniated disc hospital bill settled. This is because most accidents are caused by civilian negligence that you may have little or no control over. 

If you have health insurance or medical payments coverage, this will obviously help you with medical bills.  But ultimately the law says that they are the responsibility of the person who caused the car crash.   At best, the insurance company would foot part of the bill. If this is not the case, you can sue the defendant who caused the accident to pay the bill. This will require you to pursue a lawsuit which would require you to acquire an experienced lawyer in a car accident herniated disc.

Trauma sustained from a car accident is not an uncommon cause of herniated disc. If you get involved in a car accident that is not of your doing, getting legal representation to get you compensation for the damages caused is a good call.

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