A disc in the spinal column acts as a shock absorber between the vertebrae, or bones, in the column. There are 7 discs in the cervical spine, or neck, 12 discs in the thoracic spine, or mid back, and 5 discs in the lumbar spine, or lower back. A herniated disc (also commonly known as “slipped” or “ruptured” disc) occurs when the jelly like substance within the body of the disc leaks out beyond the outer surface of the disc. This can cause pain and numbness if the protrusion of the disc “impinges” or presses on the local nerve.
For example, if you are in a car accident, trip and fall, or construction accident, and suffer a herniated disc at L5-S1, which is the disc at the bottom of the spine, if this herniation or protrusion presses on the S1 nerve, it is likely to cause “sciatica” like symptoms, including pain or numbness travelling down the leg and often causing numbness or tingling of the foot. If the herniation is centrally located or bilateral, this means that the symptoms are present on both sides of the body. If the herniation is left sided, the person will typically experience pain and numbness down the left leg into the left foot. Similarly, a herniated disc impinging on the nerve in the lowest level of the cervical spine, C7-C8, will often result in pain and numbness going into certain fingers of the hand on the side of the herniation.
Herniated discs can sometimes be asymptomatic if the disc is not impinging on a nerve. Herniated discs can be caused in a variety of ways. In addition to resulting from the trauma of an accident, a herniation can also be caused by something as simple as a sneeze or cough, or can be degenerative if the person is more elderly, works in heavy construction, or plays contact sports such as football or rugby. The least common type of herniation is in the thoracic spine and there is a belief among many orthopedists and neurologists that typically accidents do not cause herniated discs in the thoracic spine.
Treatments for herniated discs range from the more conservative physical therapy; chiropractic care, pain medications such as Motrin, Tylenol or Aleve; acupuncture; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), to the more aggressive, including cortisone injections, discectomy (a procedure in which a portion of the disc which is impinging on the spinal nerve is removed), and fusion, in which two or more discs are fused together with hardware in the hope that the lack of movement of the discs will reduce or eliminate the symptoms of disabling pain and loss of range of motion.
If you or a family member suffer a herniated disc in a construction accident, car crash or in a slip and fall, it is vital that your retain attorneys with the requisite knowledge, background and experience to handle your case. At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, our experienced litigators are versed in the causation and liability issues which arise in herniated discs cases, and we pride ourselves in aggressively prosecuting our clients’ cases from inception through trial, arbitration, mediation or settlement. We make sure that the insurance carriers and their attorneys know that if our clients have suffered a back injury or other injuries due to the their insured’s negligence, we will demand that our clients receive compensation for their pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical and hospital bills, and loss of enjoyment of life. If this cannot be achieved through settlement or other voluntary resolution such as mediation, we will litigate the case in Court.
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