Herniated discs are one of the most serious of all injuries and can significantly alter one’s quality of life. It is also commonly known as a disc protrusion, ruptured disc, or slipped disc. The disc itself can best be described as the soft jelly-like disc located between the vertebrae. Should the disc be injured or traumatized, fluid can leak out and come into contact with the sciatic nerve and cause extreme pain. This type of injury is often caused by physical trauma, such as automobile accidents, slips and falls, or over exertion in pulling or lifting.
Common Causes of Herniated Disc Injuries
Herniated discs most commonly occur in the lumbar (lower) and cervical (upper) spine. These two locations are more prone to herniated discs for a number of reasons. A herniated disc in the lower back (lumbar) can happen because the spine experiences plenty of stress simply supporting the weight of the body and enabling movements such as bending, lifting, and walking. In the area of the neck, a cervical herniated disc is relatively common since the neck has a wide range of motion and is susceptible to injuries in accidents.
Should the root of a nerve or the spinal cord become inflamed or compressed by a herniated disc, a number of symptoms can occur:
- Sharp, stabbing pain that travels down the leg;
- Migraine headaches;
- Tingling and numbness sensations in the legs;
- A weakening of muscles;
- Difficulty urinating and/or defecating.
Doctors diagnose herniated discs by testing reflexes, sensory abilities, and muscle strength. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography scan (CT) will be given to substantiate the doctor’s diagnosis.
Though a herniated disc can be painful, making minor changes to one’s daily routine and/or medication usually relieves the symptoms.
- Ice and heat applications;
- Physical therapy.
These treatments can help a herniated disc correct itself without having to resort to surgery. Anti-inflammatory and oral steroid medications may also be used in combination with these methods to ease pain and lessen inflammation.
If symptoms are severe or the disc fails to correct itself, surgery to remove the herniated disc (a discectomy) may be performed. The surgeon removes the displaced disc and the affected area is treated to lessen the strain on the nerves and spinal cord. A discectomy is usually performed under general anesthetic, and the patient is often discharged within 48 hours, with symptoms disappearing within a few weeks. And after physical therapy, the patient is often able to engage in recreational activities and return to work.
If you were involved in a recent accident and are suffering from a herniated disc, you may have a legal case for recovery. In most cases, you must file a lawsuit in Georgia within two years of the date of injury (although exceptions to this rule apply). If you are suffering and have legal questions about your case, please call us today. You can reach Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or call us on (800) 613-1923.