Bulging Discs and Herniated Discs
If you have suffered bulging discs or herniated discs (either one) as a result of a car or truck accident or a slip and fall on someone else’s property, our personal injury attorney will do everything possible to ensure that you receive the best medical care and the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
For over 23 years, we have successfully recovered compensation from verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients with bulging disc and herniated disc injuries in Texas. We understand the physical and financial effects that these injuries have on our clients and their families.
The cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal regions of the spinal column are made up of 33 vertebrae. Spinal discs are located between each vertebrae and aid the spine in a variety of ways. They serve as shock-absorbing cushions for the vertebrae and aid in spine movement and flexibility. The discs perfectly fit between the vertebrae, allowing spinal nerves to exit the spinal canal and travel to the limbs.
Disks serve as cushions between your spine’s vertebrae. They are made up of a tough outer layer of cartilage that surrounds softer cartilage in the center. It might help to imagine them as tiny jelly doughnuts, just the right size to fit between your vertebrae.
Bulging discs occur when the outer shell of the disc weakens, allowing the disc to bulge or flatten to one side of the spinal canal. This could happen if you have a spinal disc injury. A bulging disc is analogous to letting the air out of a car tire. The disc sags and appears to bulge outward.
Bulging disks increase the risk of a herniated disk, which can be painful, impair mobility, and limit a person’s daily functioning and quality of life. Bulging disks can also cause leg weakness or numbness, as well as poor bladder control.HERNIATED DISCS
A herniated disc (also known as a ruptured disc) is more serious than a protruding disc. When a crack develops in the tough outer cartilage of a disc, the nucleus fluid bulges out. Acute trauma (such as a car accident) that places unexpected pressure on the spine is more likely to cause herniated discs. They are also more likely to cause pain, numbness, and sciatica due to the damaged disc inflaming or compressing the nerve roots in the spine.
A herniated disc has a hole or tear in the outer covering of the disc. The nucleus pulposus, the jelly-like center of the disc, leaks into the spinal canal as a result.
Bulging spinal discs is a common condition that affects both young and old people, but it is more common in the elderly. Age is the most significant risk factor for developing a protruding disc as a result of normal aging wear and tear. Other common causes and risk factors are as follows:
- Acute trauma caused by a fall or a car accident
- Incorrect lifting and bending techniques that rely on the back muscles rather than the leg and core muscles
- Trauma accumulated as a result of many years of poor posture (like slouching or bending forward)
Symptoms of bulging discs:
Bulging discs can cause no symptoms in many mild to moderate cases. An incidental finding on an MRI scan can sometimes lead to a diagnosis. A mild to moderate injury can last for years without causing pain or limiting function. If a protruding disc is significant or worsening, the following symptoms may occur:
- Leg ache, tingling, or a sensation of pins and needles
- Back pain, particularly when sitting or lifting
- Muscle deterioration
- Pain in the head, neck, or shoulders (from a protruding disc in the neck)
Protruding discs that have deteriorated to the point of herniation or rupture can result in severe symptoms that necessitate immediate medical attention. If you have pain or numbness that interferes with your ability to function or walk, or if your bowel and bladder function changes, see a doctor. These could be symptoms of nerve compression, which necessitates immediate surgery before it becomes life-threatening.
Symptoms of herniated discs:
If the herniation is minor or not pressing on a nerve, you may not experience any symptoms at all. Many people have some form of herniation.
Pain can be severe and unrelenting for those who have herniations that affect nerves. It usually occurs on one side of the body and may radiate to an arm (if the herniated disc is in the neck) or leg (if a lumbar disc is herniated; sciatica is an example).
Other signs and symptoms of a herniated disc are as follows:
- Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations, which are usually caused by a compressed nerve.
- Pain that is worse when sitting, but can worsen when standing, walking, or bending
- Balance problems or limping as a result of weakness and/or pain
- Inability to stay in one place for an extended period of time
- Loss of bowel or bladder control – this could be an indication of a medical emergency.
- A dull ache on one side of the body Pain when coughing, sneezing, or changing positions
- Muscle weakness or spasms may impair your ability to lift or hold objects.
- Reflexes that are slow
- Difficulties rising from a seated position
MRI is the most commonly used imaging for this condition. Plain x-rays of the affected region are frequently used to round out the vertebral evaluation. Please keep in mind that a disc herniation cannot be seen on standard x-rays. Before MRI, CT scans and myelograms were more commonly used, but they are now rarely ordered as the initial diagnostic imaging, unless special circumstances warrant their use. An electromyogram is rarely used.
- X-ray: The use of radiation to create a film or picture of a body part can reveal the structure of the vertebrae and the outline of the joints. X-rays of the spine are taken to look for other potential causes of pain, such as tumors, infections, fractures, and so on.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A diagnostic test that uses powerful magnets and computer technology to create 3D images of body structures; can show the spinal cord, nerve roots, and surrounding areas, as well as enlargement, degeneration, and tumors.
- CT or CAT scan: A diagnostic image created after a computer reads X-rays; can show the shape and size of the spinal canal, its contents, and the structures surrounding it.
- Myelogram: An X-ray of the spinal canal after a contrast material is injected into the surrounding cerebrospinal fluid spaces; can show pressure on the spinal cord or nerves caused by herniated discs, bone spurs, or tumors.
- EMG and Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG/NCS): These tests measure the electrical impulses that travel along nerve roots, peripheral nerves, and muscle tissue. This will show whether there is ongoing nerve damage, if the nerves are healing from a previous injury, or if there is another site of nerve compression. This test is rarely ordered.
Typically, the first line of treatment for a disc injury is pain management, therapy, and exercises. The process is lengthy and necessitates strict adherence to exercises and therapies that will assist patients in stabilizing and strengthening their back muscles. Once treatment begins, the injury is vulnerable for at least 6 weeks, and failure to comply with treatment may result in a recurring injury or worsening of the injury.
- Correct positioning. Back braces or back taping are used to keep the spine in place while the injury heals. Training and instruction in proper, safe sitting and standing postures that support the spine.
- Pain control. Pain relievers are used to help people go about their daily lives.
- Therapies. Use of therapies aimed at reducing inflammation. A combination of hot and cold compresses, deep tissue massages, electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, and acupuncture may be used as therapies.
- Exercises. Exercises for strengthening the lower abdominal and back muscles, which stabilize and support the spine. A strong core aids in the maintenance of proper sitting, standing, and lifting positions. Additional exercise training to improve muscle weakness, endurance, and range of motion.
If a patient suffers from severe pain, nerve compression, or a loss of function and quality of life as a result of a bulging or herniated disc, surgery may be the next step in treatment.
Lumbar decompression is a minimally invasive procedure that relieves back and leg pain by relieving pressure on a pinched nerve. If non-surgical treatment options are ineffective, the surgeon will evaluate the patient for surgery based on the injury history, symptoms, and MRI results. Other surgical options may be necessary depending on the condition of the injury, spine, and disc.FREE CONSULTATIONS
If you or someone you know requires the assistance of a Dallas auto accident attorney for an auto accident case, call (972) 599 4100 for a free consultation and strategy session with a personal injury lawyer about your case. A summary of your case, identification of the legal issues involved in your case, and identification of those legal issues that will help maximize your recovery in your case are all part of the strategy session. We will email you a copy of this strategy session for your records.
You will not be charged unless and until we win! If we work on your case, we charge a contingency fee, which means we don’t get paid if we don’t win. We are compensated based on how well we serve you – our interest is the same as yours. Call us at (972) 599 4100 or use our website’s contact form.
By Doug Goyen, firstname.lastname@example.org
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