In the first half of this year, road accidents in the United States had already claimed 18,720 lives. On top of this, experts estimate that 2.1 million people sustained serious crash injuries.
Driving under the influence of alcohol remains the number one cause. Then, there’s reckless driving and distracted driving (like texting while operating a vehicle). Speeding is also a huge contributor to the road crashes we see in the country every year.
Apart from visible injuries, auto accidents can also cause ruptured disc injuries. If not ruptured, then at least a bulging or slipped disc. Either way, they’re behind many of the low back pain cases affecting 31 million Americans.
But what exactly is a ruptured or bulging disc? How can you tell if you have it, and if you do, what’s the next step for you?
We’ll cover all these and more, so be sure to keep reading!
Know Your Disc Disorders: Ruptured vs Bulging Disc
A ruptured disc differs from a bulging disc in their disorder classification. The former is what doctors call a “non-contained” disc disorder. The other classifies as a “contained” disc disorder.
That’s because when a disc herniates (AKA ruptures), a gel-like substance inside it leaks out. Known as nucleus pulposus, this substance can seep out of the tiniest cracks or injuries on a disc.
When this happens, it can reach the structures outside the disc, such as the nerve roots. This can result in the irritation of the sensitive nerves, which is what causes pain.
With a bulging disc, the nucleus pulposus hasn’t escaped the disc yet. But this “bulge” or bubble can extend out of the affected disc. This can then reach the spinal canal, putting pressure against a nerve.
Although a bulging disc doesn’t “leak”, the strain it puts against a nerve can still irritate a nerve. In short, it can still cause pain and a variety of other symptoms.
Signs Pointing to a Ruptured Disc
The lower back, or the lumbar spine, is where most disc herniation occurs. Note though that you can have a ruptured disc in your neck too. A herniated neck disc is a common reason behind the 15% of surveyed individuals who complain of neck pain.
Here are some of the most common symptoms telling you that you have a ruptured disc.
1. It Hurts to Sit
A ruptured disc injury affecting the lower back can lead to intense pain in the lower half of your body. That includes the buttocks, which then makes sitting a painful task.
Now, consider that 25% of folks in the U.S. sit for more than eight hours a day. If you’re one of these individuals, you can expect pain in the buttocks to be debilitating. It’s even worse for people who have desk jobs, as that would mean having to often stand while working!
In any case, if this pain started (or worsened) after a car accident, it’s possible you have a herniated disc. Have it checked ASAP as the incident may have caused or exacerbated your condition.
2. Your Thighs Hurt
Speaking of standing, people with a ruptured disc may still feel extreme pain when they do. That’s because herniated disc pain can extend to the thighs. The rupture in the disc could have reached the sciatic nerve, irritating it.
The sciatic nerve starts from the lower spine, runs through the buttocks, and ends at the back of the thighs. That means when the leaking disc gel irritates the sciatic nerve, your thighs can also hurt.
By the way, that pain affecting the sciatic nerve is what doctors call “sciatica”. Experts estimate that as many as 40% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. But you can get it as early as now if you’ve been in a car accident that led to a ruptured disc.
3. The Pain from Your Buttocks Extend to Your Calves
If you have a lumbar disc injury, even your calves can suffer. Again, this has something to do with the leaking nucleus pulposus irritating a nerve. As such, when you feel pain that goes all the way from your buttocks to your calves, take that as a sign of a ruptured disc.
4. Pain in the Arms and Shoulders from Cervical Disc Injury
Remember what we said about cervical disc injuries? If the traffic accident you got involved in injured the neck disc, then that’s where you’ll feel pain. But you may notice that the pain in the shoulders and arms is more intense.
5. Your Muscles Feel Tired and Weak
Muscle weakness is another common symptom of a herniated disc. Note though that this is also part of the long list of bulging disc symptoms. Either way, an injured disc, whether in the lower back or neck, can cause your muscles to weaken.
This is true even after someone recovers from their visible car accident injuries. They may still complain about feeling weak and tired. That may be the irritated or pinched nerves at work, which cause the muscles they serve to weaken.
6. You Find it Harder (and More Painful) to Pull or Lift Heavy Objects
Your weakened muscles may also be the reason why you now have a harder time pulling or carrying heavy stuff. Not only do you feel weak; tugging on things may also leave you experiencing pain.
Injured discs can even cause pain that shoots to your shoulders and arms when you extend your hands. When you bend down to pick something up, the pain may start from your back and shoot down to your legs. Either way, these are signs of a ruptured or bulging disc, so have yourself checked by a doctor ASAP.
7. Pins and Needles in Certain Parts of Your Body
Bulging or herniated discs can also cause numbness or tingling sensations. This is true for injuries both to the neck or back discs. The “pins and needles” you may experience can be anywhere from your arms to your calves.
8. Laughing Makes You Want to Cry Out Right After
Have you noticed how laughing has become a painful activity after your accident? If so, then that’s a sign you may have an injured cervical or lumbar disc. How so?
Laughing puts pressure on your neck and abdomen, which can then affect the injured discs. As such, this supposedly fun and enjoyable act becomes a painful one instead.
Now, you don’t want to live a laughter-free life, would you? That would put a serious toll on the quality of your life. So, make sure you don’t ignore this symptom and see a doctor ASAP.
9. Coughing and Sneezing Come with Pain
Coughs and colds are very common, with the U.S. seeing 1 billion cases of colds every year. But it’s a different story if you feel shooting pain with your coughing and sneezing fits. That pain can signal a ruptured or bulging disc.
Your injured disc can cause these highly-unpleasant sensations much like how laughing does. Having cough and colds are bad enough, but it’s even worse when serious pain accompanies them.
10. Other Symptoms of Disc Injuries
A ruptured or bulging disc in your back can also cause pain when you assume certain body positions. For instance, you may experience shooting pain even with a slight twist of your body. You may also feel this when you stretch or make any bending movement.
Feeling cold, often on only one side, can also signal disc injuries. A burning or numb sensation on only the left or right side can also mean a ruptured or bulging disc.
You may also find yourself stumbling or walking in an awkward manner due to a damaged disc. This is often accompanied by problems with your hands’ and arms’ fine motor skills. In fact, you may even lose your balance and coordination!
Never ignore these symptoms, because they can lead to much more dangerous slips and falls. Keep in mind that fall accidents lead to more than 8 million emergency room visits every year. Slips that lead to falls are also common, accounting for more than 1 million ER visits every year.
So, as you can see, you should seek professional help as soon as you notice all these symptoms of injured discs. But we’re not only referring to a doctor. You’d also want to seek the help of a legal professional who can represent you and your claim.
Your Right to Getting Fair Compensation
You already went through so much pain and suffering from your car accident. It may have even terrorized and traumatized you from getting behind the wheel again. Worse, it has led to you losing so many work days.
If you know you didn’t have anything to do with causing the accident, you have every right to fair compensation. But the legal side of such incidents can be pretty confusing. Especially if the other party claims the accident didn’t cause your injured disc.
They may even say that you’ve already had a disc injury before the accident. Or that you have pre-existing conditions that led to the disc becoming injured.
Either way, it’s best that you prepare as much as you can to fight for your rights to fair compensation. A personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling cases like yours can help.
Start Processing Your Claim Now
If you experience any of these bulging or ruptured disc symptoms, make sure you see a doctor first. From there, the next step is to get in touch with a car accident lawyer. This way, you can be better equipped to protect your rights to compensation.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to file a claim. Connect with us now so we can give your case a free review!
If youve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you. Your case and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephens 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even! Call Stephen! Stephen Babcock.