A slip on an unsteady sidewalk or floor; falling down ill-maintained the stairs; a car crash — whatever the circumstance, an accident that hurts your back could leave you with a spinal injury known as a “herniated disc.” The intensity and discomfort can be challenging to try to live with on a daily basis.
Here, we explain what a herniated disc is, what causes it, how to treat it, and what to do if you were injured through no fault of your own.
How Your Spine Gets a Herniated Disc
Your spine consists of 33 vertebrae, each separated by a spongy membrane called a “disc.” The Mayo Clinic describes a disc as “a little like a jelly donut,” because of how the discs are structured. They act as cushions or shock absorbers for your spine and are made of a firm rubbery outer shell and a softer gel-like inner membrane.
For a variety of reasons, the outer shell can rupture, causing the inner membrane to push through it. This is known as a “herniated disc” (also referred to as a “slipped” or “ruptured disc”).
The bulging disc can put pressure on the disc wall, nerve roots, or the spinal cord, causing weakness, numbness, and often excruciating pain. The severity depends on a variety of circumstances, including the cause of the herniation.
The Causes and Treatments of a Slipped Disc
A number of different factors can cause a herniated disc, but one notable cause is a sudden impact, rapid twisting, or other direct trauma to the spine. That doesn’t mean that only the most dramatic accidents can rupture a disc, though.
These are just a few of the actions that can result in a slipped disc:
- Simple slip and falls
- Bending or twisting your body
- Carrying or lifting heavy objects
- Car accidents
Often, treatment includes pain relievers, rest, and/or physical therapy. Physical activity beyond the slow and deliberate should be avoided — bending forward and lifting items should be done with great caution — but not doing anything is also not a good idea, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which suggests that light exercise to help strengthen the problem areas could be helpful.
If your pain doesn’t subside or you experience other serious symptoms, such as severe weakness, numbness, or loss of bladder or bowel control, surgery may be required. In some cases, a surgeon will remove the herniated part of the disc and bone fragments putting pressure on the nerves, according to the AAOS. For herniated discs in the neck area, a surgeon will remove the entire herniated disc, replaced with bone and a metal plate.
Surgery could cost between $20,000 and $40,000, depending on the degree of injury, according to a MedPage Today report. That doesn’t take into account the lost wages and any pain and suffering you’ve had to endure.
What if Your Herniated Disc Wasn’t Your Fault?
Spinal injuries can disrupt your life both financially and emotionally. If your injury was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for some or all of the following:
- Medical bills (accrued and ongoing)
- Loss of current and future wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
A Trusted Lawyer Could Help You Get The Compensation You Deserve
If you or a loved one has suffered a herniated disc through no fault of your own, you should seek medical attention at the first sign of your symptoms and contact our attorneys for a free, no-risk case evaluation. You could be entitled to receive monetary damages to cover your bills.