For some people, a herniated disc can be debilitating for a lifetime. A CT scan or MRI diagnoses a herniated disc, but it can’t predict how much pain each patient will feel. And that varies greatly from person to person.
Car accidents can cause painful herniated discs and if you’ve been in one you deserve just compensation. An experienced car accident injury lawyer will work on your behalf to get the best settlement to compensate for your suffering.
What is a herniated disc?
In between the vertebrae of our spines are very useful cushions that act as shock absorbers. The outsides are fibrous and the insides are gel-like. These are called intervertebral discs and when the discs are in good shape, as long as there aren’t any other underlying problems, our backs feel great.
But when pressure is put on the outside of the cushion that causes the soft inside to ooze out and the disc becomes herniated. For some people there is no or little pain. But if what has oozed out presses on nerves near the disc, the pain can be severe.
A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of back and leg pain. The sudden jolt of a car accident can cause a disc to herniate because of the intense pressure put on the disc.
Common symptoms of herniated discs
Symptoms vary greatly in patients depending on the size of the herniation and the position of the herniated disc. If you have a disc herniation, you may experience some of the following:
- Persistent or occasional back pain (sometimes there is no back pain)
- Sharp pain, burning, tingling and numbness starting in the back or buttocks that radiates down the leg, calf or into the foot
- Pain that radiates to the shoulders, arms, hands or fingers
- Leg or foot numbness
- Muscle weakness that may cause you to have trouble walking or lifting items
- Neck pain
- Spasm of the neck muscles
- Pain near the shoulder blade
- Numbness or tingling in the feet or legs
Can a car accident make degenerative disc disease worse?
Sometimes insurance companies tell car collision victims that their preexisting degenerative disk disease disqualifies them from money damages for pain following the accident. But this is simply not true. It is possible to have degenerative disc disease and no symptoms at all.
For some people, they get into a car crash which causes back pain, only to discover upon medical exams that they’ve had the disease and never knew it. So the accident brought on the symptoms of a disease that had not been bothering them. A competent car accident injury attorney will argue on your behalf that the disease and subsequent pain was activated or aggravated by the car collision.
Should I have surgery for a herniated disc?
The initial treatment for a herniated disc is usually nonsurgical. For mild to moderate pain a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended. Physical therapy is often prescribed, and along with pain medication and muscle relaxants, symptoms can improve for many patients.
A doctor may recommend surgery if these initial treatments do not reduce or eliminate the pain. But all surgeries come with risks. A patient may be considered a good candidate for spinal surgery if:
- Your pain limits normal activity or worsens your quality of life
- You have difficulty walking or standing
- You’ve lost normal bowel and bladder functions
- You numbness or weakness in your legs
- Physical therapy and medication did not work for you
- You are in reasonably good health
How much does it cost to have surgery for a herniated disc?
A herniated disc surgery can cost on average between $20,000- $50,000 or more. Depending on the severity of your condition, a longer surgery may be needed or additional instruments may need to be used in the surgery, both of which may increase the cost.
Some surgical facilities are more expensive than others. It is crucial to know in advance whether your insurance company covers the full cost of the operation or just a portion. You can ask if your doctor has an insurance specialist on staff you can talk to before surgery. Also, take into account that your doctor may prescribe physical therapy post-surgery so factor in that cost as well.
Can I get disability for herniated discs?
Herniated discs can severely limit your ability to walk, sit still, lift items and cause terrible pain such that it may be difficult for you to work. Add pain medications on top of that and the subsequent dizziness and drowsiness may make it impossible for you to drive to work in the first place.
You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. You can refer to the Social Security Blue Book Section 1.04 as a starting point to see the requirements for disability with a herniated disc. Warning, it’s technical medical jargon, but you can run this list past your physician who can consult with you or provide you with tests needed to see if you may qualify.
A herniated disc from a car accident can wreak havoc on your life, but you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras today for a free injury consultation at (410) 694-7291.