So You Have a Herniated Disc-But What is That?
Many people in car accidents who suffer back injuries, will suffer what the doctor tells them is a herniated disc. Most of us have heard this term before, whether we’ve had a herniated disc injury or not. And most of us also know that a herniated disc is considered to be a serious injury.
But what is a herniated disc and how do herniated discs actually happen?
The Bones in Your Spine
If you run your finger up and down your or someone else’ spine, you’ll feel a series of bony structures. These are in fact bones, called vertebrae, and they are there to protect the sensitive and vitally important nerves in the spinal column.
But these are bones, all connected to each other—how do they allow your back to move in virtually any direction?
The answer is what is between those vertebrae. Between them are jelly-like sacs, called discs. These discs actually have two purposes: they allow the spine to move, and they also keep your bony vertebrae from grinding against each other (which would cause serious pain and wear and tear).
Ruptured or Herniated Discs
But these discs are soft, as they must be to allow your back to move. That means that when they are injured, the sac can rupture, spilling out the jelly like fluid inside. This is herniation. Even if it doesn’t rupture, the sec can be pushed out of place, so it is jutting into the spinal column.
The disc can rupture just a little bit, which is considered to be a minor herniation. It may not even be painful at all, in very minor herniations.
But in a major impact, the jelly inside the sacs or discs, or the disc itself, may be pushed so far out of place that it is pushing onto the nerves of the spinal column. In very serious cases, this can cut off or sever the spinal cord nerves, causing paralysis, but that is thankfully rare.
What is not rare is to have the disc herniate enough that it pushes on the spinal cord nerves enough to cause continual pain. In some cases, the pressing against the spinal cord nerves can even cause numbness or loss of certain functions, such as inability to control the bladder, or weakness in a muscle.
Detection and Treatment
Herniated discs aren’t easy to detect, especially in hospital emergency rooms, because the traditional X-Rays used in ERs only show bone. They can show if a vertebrae is cracked, or if the vertebrae is closer to the next one than it should be, but the ER X-ray doesn’t show the disc, or whether the disc has ruptured. An MRI is needed for that.
Most doctors will start treating herniated discs conservatively. But if that is not successful, epidural injections, or even surgery, may be necessary.
Have you suffered a back injury in any kind of accident? Call the West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help.