What to Expect With a Disc Tear from a Car Accident
Are you one of the 2.4 million Americans injured every year in a car crash?
In addition to your physical pain, you may also be dealing with medical bills, property damage, and loss of income.
If this sounds like you, don’t despair. Whether you’re suffering from a disc tear or another common car accident injury, help is available.
In this post, we’ll walk you through what to expect as you’re recovering from your disc tear. We’ll also outline the legal options available so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Defining Disc Tear Injuries
Bulging disc. Herniated disc. Torn disc. Slipped disc.
These are all common terms that doctors throw around–but do they all mean the same thing?
Not necessarily. Although some of these terms may be used interchangeably, it’s important to know exactly what’s going on in your body.
A “slipped” disc is a non-medical term that’s often used to refer to a herniated disc or a bulging disc.
A “bulging” disc (also called a “disc protrusion”) occurs when the spinal disc protrudes outward because of pressure from the spine. In this case, it has not yet torn open.
If a bulging disc continues to expand outward, the result is a “herniated” disc. This means a disc tear has occurred in the disc’s outer layer.
How a Torn Disc Happens
While some disc degeneration is normal as we age, a disc tear caused by a car accident is something else entirely.
When you’re involved in a car accident, the sudden stress placed on the spinal column can cause the disc that separates your vertebrae to move out of place. This most commonly occurs in the neck (cervical spine) or the lower back (lumbar spine).
If the disc pushes out into the spinal cord and presses against nerves, you may experience:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Leg pain
- Arm or hand pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Inability to sit, stand, or lie down for extended periods
- Inability to bend down or lift heavy objects
The pain of a disc tear may be sudden and sharp, or it may feel dull and linger for a long time. Either way, if you’re experiencing pain after an accident, be sure to see your doctor right away.
Not only is this best for your health, but it will also strengthen your personal injury claim if you pursue legal action.
You’ve been to your doctor (or perhaps many doctors). You’ve undergone physical exams, MRIs, and X-rays. You’ve received your diagnosis–your pain is being caused by a disc tear.
Depending on the severity of your disc tear, you have several treatment options available to you. These include:
- Pain medication (NSAIDs)
- Epidural Injections
- Chiropractic care
- Muscle relaxers
- Stretching exercises
- Hot/cold therapy
- Physical therapy
- Alternative therapies (massage, acupuncture, yoga)
- Weight management
If these treatment options seem conservative, they are. The truth is that 90% of disc injuries can be successfully treated without surgery.
In severe cases, if the pain is affecting your everyday life for an extended period of time, your doctor may recommend surgery. Common surgical procedures for torn discs include discectomy, microdiscectomy, or laminectomy.
For many people, healing is possible through several days or weeks of conservative treatment.
During this time, your doctor may recommend that you use over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to ease your pain. You might also use ice packs or a combination of heat and cold to reduce your symptoms.
What if your pain doesn’t improve with standard over-the-counter medications? In this case, your doctor might prescribe a stronger painkiller, such as codeine, Percocet, or OxyContin. Muscle relaxers or cortisone injections are also options for more serious pain.
There are also many complementary therapies that can help you through the healing process. These include chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
Whichever route you choose, it’s important to take it easy in the days following your car accident. Often your symptoms won’t appear until a day or even a few days after the incident. Don’t push your body too hard until you know the extent of your injuries.
At the same time, you want to avoid too much bed rest during this time. This can stiffen your joints and weaken your muscles, both of which can hinder the recovery process.
Alternate periods of rest with walking, stretching, or light housework. Listen to your body. Avoid any activities that make your pain worse.
Even if your injuries aren’t severe, you’re still entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you’re experiencing.
How can you move forward and get a successful claim?
First, you need to prove decisively that the other driver was at fault. If you were rear-ended, it’s usually evident that the other driver was negligent.
You’ll also need to show that your injuries are a direct result of the accident. Many insurance companies are leery of people trying to make medical claims, so you need to show a connection between the accident and your current symptoms.
But don’t worry–this isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Your doctors can help you with the documentation you need.
It’s also vital to seek representation from an experienced personal injury lawyer. They can guide you through the legal jungle and ensure you get the settlement your claim is worth.
Get the Settlement You Deserve for Your Injuries
As your body heals from the car accident, you also need to consider what legal action to take against the responsible party.
At Babcock Partners, we have extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases just like yours. We’ll fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve for your disc tear.
If you’ve 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 Stephen’s 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.
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