Herniated and Bulging Discs
The human spine is a very complex and important body part, serving several very important functions that are critical to the proper functioning of our bodies. The spine is not only one of the most important structures involved in allowing us to walk upright, but is also the body’s information superhighway, allowing messages to travel throughout the body and thus permit the proper functioning of almost all of our limbs and organs. The individual structures that make up the spine are also very complex, though they are generally quite durable. However, accident trauma to the spine caused by negligence can result in serious injuries that can cause a lifetime of pain, suffering and disability, leaving a Bronx accident victim unable to live their life without feeling serious and debilitating pain on a daily basis.
Among the most common – and, often, the most debilitating – traumatic injuries to the human spine that occur in accidents are “herniated” and “bulging” discs. Often referred to as a “slipped disc” or a “pinched nerve” injury, the effects of these injuries on an accident victim’s life can range from totally asymptomatic to completely debilitating. Given the nature of these injuries, it is also sometimes very difficult to prove that the injury was actually caused by an accident, rather than by the natural degenerative processes that affect everyone regardless of the occurrence of a traumatic injury.
Our Bronx spinal cord injury lawyers have the legal experience, understanding of medical concepts, and key financial resources necessary to prove that your spinal cord injury was caused by a traumatic accident, rather than solely through the effects of natural degenerative processes. This proof is essential to winning your Bronx spinal cord injury lawsuit, and we offer you access to lawyers who can help you prove your case if you contact us today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation.What Exactly is a “Herniated Disc” or a “Bulging Disc” Spinal Cord Injury?
In medical parlance, a “herniated disc” and a “bulging disc” are used somewhat interchangeably, and refer to a certain type of damage to the squishy “intervertebral discs” of material that are situated in between the vertebrae (i.e., the bones) of the spinal column and provide cushion for the spinal column that allows it to flex and move. These intervertebral discs are best analogized to a jelly doughnut: They feature a study outer layer, known as the annulus, and are filled with soft semi-liquid material, known as the nucleus polposus, which gives the intervertebral disc a squishy and flexible characteristic which allows the spine to flex and provides cushion for the vertebrae.
The difference between a “herniated disc” and a “bulging disc” generally refers to the degree of damage sustained when a spinal cord injury occurs. No two cases of injury to an intervertebral disc are the same, and often it is the specific location of a disc injury relative to the nerves of the spinal cord and related structures that determines whether such an injury will cause severe pain and disability, or no symptoms at all.
A “herniated disc” and “bulging disc” occur when the annulus – the outer layer of the intervertebral disc – is pushed outward so that it no longer in line with the spinal column. Intervertebral discs are supposed to sit neatly within the spaces between the vertebrae. A “bulging disc” generally refers to a disc injury that involves only the “bulging” out of the annulus from between the vertebrae in between which it is situated, without any rupture of the annulus itself. Bulging discs are quite common, and often result from the natural aging process, though they can also be caused by traumatic accidents such as rear-end car accidents. In fact, in a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, of a sample size of 98 people who were all asymptomatic of any spinal pain whatsoever, it was discovered that more than half of them had a bulging disc at one level of their spine or another despite having absolutely no complaints of neck or back pain.
A “herniated disc” – which is often a more serious injury than a “bulging disc” – involves not only a bulging outward of the annulus, but also a rupture of the annulus (often referred to as an “annular fissure”) which causes the nucleus polposus to leak out of the disc. Depending on the specific location of the annular fissure and resultant leak of nucleus polposus material, a herniated disc can either cause no symptoms at all, or can cause debilitating spinal pain. Whether or not a “herniated disc” causes serious pain, or no pain at all, depends on whether the leak of nucleus polposus material makes contact with one of the many nerve roots exiting the spinal column (which control various parts of the human body, depending on the level of the spine at which the nerve root is located), or causes compression of the spinal cord itself. For example, the most common spinal column level at which herniated discs occur is the “L5-S1” level; and if a “herniated disc” at that level touches the “L5-S1” nerve root, an accident victim will feel shooting pain and numbness down their legs to their anterior thigh, whereas if the “herniated disc” does not touch that nerve root they are likely never to notice that they have suffered this injury.How are Herniated Discs and Bulging Discs Caused and how are They Treated?
Spinal cord injures such as “herniated discs” and “bulging discs” are very often caused by direct trauma to the spinal column. These injuries are very common in car accidents, but also occur in falls from height on a construction site, or trip-and-fall accidents. However, as we age, the likelihood that some degeneration of the spine will have occurred before a serious injury to the spine is sustained increases, and it is sometimes very difficult to demonstrate that a “herniated disc” or “bulging disc” was caused by trauma, rather than by the natural aging process, even if the injured person never felt any back pain whatsoever prior to being injured in a serious accident. Often, whether or not a Bronx accident victim collects compensation for their spinal cord injuries depends upon being able to distinguish, through sophisticated medical proof, between age-related degeneration of the spine and traumatic injuries that have caused and activated severe and debilitating spinal cord pain. Our team of expert Bronx spinal cord injury lawyers maintains a network of expert physicians, including radiologists who will read your test results to demonstrate the cause of your injuries, to ensure that we can help our clients prove that negligence, and not the natural aging process, was the substantial cause of their spinal cord injuries.
Treatment options for “bulging discs” usually involve physical therapy, and possibly interlaminer steroid injections or facet injections if the injury causes severe symptoms (possibly due to spinal cord compression). Treatment options for “herniated discs” involve these same courses of treatment, but due to the increased severity of a “herniated disc” relative to a “bulging disc” in most cases, surgical management is often necessary in the case of a “herniated disc”, which can include discectomy and spinal fusion procedures. The reason that surgery is often required in the case of a serious “herniated disc” injury is that they only way to relieve the injured patient’s symptoms is to remove the nucleus polposus material from the nerve root, or from the spinal cord itself, as the pressure of that material sitting on the nerve root, or touching the spinal cord, causes pain that can only be relieved if the nucleus polposus material is moved out of contact with the nervous tissue.Contact our Bronx Spinal Cord Injury Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury in an accident anywhere in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City, we invite you to call our team of Bronx personal injury lawyers today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation. We want to help you understand your rights, and will fight to the end for you and your family if we accept your case into our firm. Our spinal cord injury lawyers are knowledgeable about the important and complicated medical concepts at work in spinal cord injury accident cases, and can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled if you suffer a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of another.