Back injuries are common in auto accidents. One type of injury that accident victims might suffer is a torn disc. This happens when an intervertebral disc, which cushions the vertebrae in the spine, tears or ruptures. This injury is also referred to as a herniated disc.
All kinds of accidents can cause a disc injury, including a rear-end collision. While many associate rear-end accidents with neck injuries, like whiplash or cervical herniated discs, they can injure the back, too. So if you’re sitting in traffic on the I-70 in Denver and somebody rear ends you, make sure a doctor examines your neck, back, and other parts to check for injuries that might not manifest right away.
Accident victims should be sure to receive medical care and proper diagnosis so they can pursue the proper damages in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Symptoms of a Torn Disc
Pain is the most common symptom that patients experience after a torn disc. The disc may press on nerves in the spinal region, which can cause negative effects in other areas of the body.
If the tear occurs to the cervical region, the patient may feel pain in the neck, shoulders, upper back, arms and hands. When it happens in the thoracic region, the pain may affect the chest, ribs, mid-back and arms. And in the lumbar region, it could affect the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet.
Besides pain, other symptoms that may accompany a torn disc include:
- muscle spasms;
- numbness and tingling;
- weakness; and
- limited movement.
Diagnosis and Treatment of a Torn Disc
The doctor will conduct a physical examination to look for signs of the injury and will ask you about your symptoms. Sometimes an MRI can help confirm the diagnosis. Torn discs may heal on their own.
The main focus of treatment is relieving the pain which can be done with:
- anti-inflammatory and pain medications;
- hot/cold therapy;
- restricting certain activities; and
- steroid injections.
Physical therapy may also be required for some patients. This can help relieve pain and strengthen muscles in the area. Going to physical therapy sessions can increase the cost of medical care, which an insurance claim or lawsuit might address.
For some patients, however, surgery to remove the disc or part of the disc becomes necessary, and with it higher medical bills. For instance, a doctor may recommend surgery when the injury is severe enough that it’s causing significant weakness or the individual is unable to perform basic tasks. In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery if other noninvasive measures are unsuccessful.
Impact of a Torn Disc on an Auto Accident Claim
When another driver’s negligence was the cause of an accident and it resulted in a torn disc, victims might pursue compensation for the medical expenses incurred. While the patient is recovering, any missed time from work may also be included in a claim or lawsuit.
However, it’s important not to settle this type of claim too quickly because it will take time to fully realize the extent of damage and the impact it could have on quality of life. Complications could arise or the surgery may not be successful. This will have a much more significant impact on not only potential future medical costs and lost wages, but it could result in permanent disability.
To fully understand your rights and legal options, contact an attorney today. D.J. Banovitz helps accident victims in the Denver area, so call today: (303) 300-5060.