One of the most common injuries received in any form of auto accidents are neck and back injuries. These injuries can manifest and settle in many different ways depending on the severity of the accident, but they should never be belittled, even if you feel it’s not too serious. Because of the fact that people have varying ranges of pain tolerance, physicians may feel a neck or back injury is less severe than it really is, resulting in lack of treatment, or wrong treatment all together.
An effective way that the medical field has been able to reduce the amount of misdiagnoses on neck and back injuries is through the use of MRIs, CT scans, X-Rays, bone scans and myelograms. All of these are common procedures that many patients whom are complaining of neck and/or back pain undergo. (More on those procedures) Even still, it’s possible that one could be victim of medical malpractice and should follow up accordingly.
Are you experiencing neck or back pain after an accident? In Florida, which is a “no-fault” state, you can receive medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident through a branch of auto insurance called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). If you haven’t received treatment yet, read about your rights and options through Personal Injury Protection and choose your next course of action.
There are many different neck and back injuries you could currently be suffering from after an accident, and you may be eligible for compensation if they were received due to someone’s negligence, or lack of care. Here are some of the most common types of neck injures you could currently be undergoing.
Neck Strain or Sprain: This is by far the most common neck injury that you can receive in an accident. Symptoms can range from things less severe such as constant headaches, to things as serious as difficulties with memory or concentration due to the unbearable pain.
Herniated Disc or Disc Herniation: Between each vertebra in your spine is a soft, rubbery, and flexible cushion called a spinal disc. Its main purpose is to absorb shock from regular motions and activities that place the spine under pressure. These discs are small and have limited blood, so any damage dealt to them can be hard for your body to repair, especially if the damage further limits the blood supplied to them. Due to an accident, it’s possible to develop a herniated disc, which is when the soft, near-liquid insides of a disc are pushed beyond the margin of the disc and create pressure on a vertebra’s cervical nerve, creating unpleasant and sometimes excruciating pain.
Types of Herniated Discs
A bulging disc or disc protrusion exists when the jelly like disc material (nucleus pulposus) forms a bulge with in an intact annulus (this is the material that surrounds the disc).
A disc extrusion or extruded disc occurs when the disc material ruptures through the annulus.
A disc sequestration or sequestered disc exists when a portion of the disc material escapes outside of the torn annulus and becomes separated from the main portion of the disc.
A focal disc herniation is a herniation that comprises less than 25% of the disc circumference.
A broad based disc herniation is one that comprises 25-50% of the disc circumference.
Radiculopathy: This quite literally translates to “pinched nerve” or nerve root compression. . Most commonly caused by herniated discs; pinched nerves can also be caused by bone spurs that form along the spine. When a disc begins to herniate, an individual may manifest with pain, weakness or even numbness in their extremities. In fact, herniations in the neck may result in radiculopathy in the arms and herniation in the back may result in radiculopathy in the legs. If pain, numbness or weakness exists because of compression or irritation of the nerve root we will often see an occurrence of radiculopathy. The individual will generally identify the radiculopathy in the areas that the nerve root supplies.
Alternative Causes of Nerve Root Compression
Bone spurs are a relatively common formation for people suffering from OA, or Osteoarthritis. This condition is a state in which the cartilage between joints disintegrates over the years causing uncomfortable joint rubbing and friction. The rubbing can eventually cause said bone spurs, which are simply rough and usually sharp areas of bone that are rarely an issue, however; if you develop a bone spur on a vertebra, this can either directly pinch a nerve in your spine, or it can puncture or irritate the spinal disc, in turn causing a ruptured or herniated disc. (More on Neck Injuries)
A herniated disc is a problem that can occur all throughout the spine, but there are many injuries, which are unique to the back that may cause critical or permanent damage.
Mid-Back and Lower Back Injuries
Thoracic Spine Injuries: The upper back is also referred to as the thoracic spine. This is section of your spine that connects to the ribs and chest region. Any sprains, strains, or fractures to this area may cause serious and permanent nerve damage.
Lumbar Spine Injuries: The lumbar spine is a section of the five largest vertebrae in your spine and has some of the most important muscles to maintain stability. Any sprains, strains, or fractures to this area may make it extremely difficult to complete daily physical tasks and could also result in swelling, tenderness, or bruising.
Spinal Cord Injuries: This, by far, has potential to be the most serious injury you can receive throughout all of the neck and back injuries. These injuries can result in paralysis, either completely or partially, and can cause many side effects including bleeding, blood clots, and infections obtained from the necessary surgery. (More on Back Injuries)
Evaluation of Spinal Injuries
Physicians treating both neck and back injuries and more specifically, Spine Surgeons, will generally utilize diagnostic examinations such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI scans to determine the extent of discogenic (disc-related) pathology and miss-alignment of the spine that may be present. The physician will then attempt to correlate the diagnostic findings with the clinical presentation of the patient.
Another diagnostic test utilized by Spine Surgeons and interventional pain management physicians is known as a discogram. In a discogram, the physician injects contrast (dye) into an intervertebral disc in an effort to determine whether the increase in disc pressure replicates the patient’s pain. Further, most physicians will subsequently send the patient out for a post-discogram CT scan to determine whether the contrast has escaped the annulus. This enables the physician to determine whether an annular tear exists and if it is the cause of the patient’s pain. In a diagnostic myelogram, a physician will inject contrast into the thecal sac to determine whether nerve root compromise exists and to what extent.
Treatment of Spinal Injuries
Treatment generally includes conservative care (chiropractic or physical therapy) along with injections and oral anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation around the nerves, which may be the cause of pain and restore overall range of motion. Injections can take the form of anesthetic to provide pain relief or steroidal to reduce localized inflammation.
If conservative treatment measures and injection therapy fail to alleviate the pain, a Surgeon may recommend surgical intervention. A common surgical procedure is known as decompression, wherein the Surgeon will remove disc material and tissue (and sometimes bone) that is placing pressure of the nerve root or spinal cord. The goal of a spinal decompression surgery is to remove or greatly reduce nerve impingement.
Two Most Common Decompression Surgeries
Microdiscectomy – (also known as a microdecompression) is often utilized to treat leg pain caused by a herniated lumbar (back) disc that is causing leg pain. The leg pain caused by the herniated lumbar disc is commonly referred to a radiculopathy or sciatica.
Lumbar laminectomy – this is a procedure to treat symptoms caused by lumbar spinal stenosis. Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the disc spaces and can be causes by a number of factors. Stenosis may be caused by the normal aging process in which the disc deteriorates over time and as fluid leaves a healthy disc, the disc itself becomes flatter and the space at such disc level decreases greatly. We also may see bone spurs intruding into the disc space due to the aging process. In turn, this often results in pressure upon the nerves. Stenosis may also be caused by trauma that can alter the spinal anatomy and lead to instability. In a laminectomy, the incision is much larger than a microdiscectomy. However, the procedures are very similar in that a piece of bone and or disc material impinging upon the nerve root will be removed in effort to create more space.
A fusion is when adjacent vertebrae are stabilized together to relieve or somewhat alleviate compression and chronic spine pain. In the case of the cervical spine, decompressions are often accompanied by a fusion of at least one-level due to the greater likelihood of instability of the neck compared to the back.
THIS ARTICLE IS IN NO WAY EXHAUTIVE OF ALL PROCEDURES OR INJURIES OF THE SPINE THAT EXISTS. THIS IS SIMPLY AN OVERVIEW.
Why choose Dolman Law?
These injuries aren’t the limit, and some injuries not listed may be inflicted upon someone as the result of an accident, but no matter what your neck or back injury is, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you haven’t already to prevent further damage, or even death. In the event that you were damaged in any way to due to someone else’s negligence or lack of care, you may be entitled to compensation to cover not only the cost of the expensive medical treatment, but possibly lost wages and other damages.
Don’t let your suffering go unnoticed; not in a situation where time can be so crucial. Dolman Law Group’s experienced back and neck injury attorneys will fight to receive the benefits you deserve after an accident that has left you hurt. You won’t want to delay any longer, as strict legal deadlines or rules may come in to play that restrict you from getting the compensation you want and need.
Dolman Law Group has had outstanding success with many cases related to spine injuries of the neck and back and we only plan on adding to our list of impressive achievements. We’re proud to represent anyone who is a victim of unfair treatment, ignorance, negligence or simply doesn’t know what steps to take to start their legal case. Our proud and respected team will stand with you in your battle to ensure a victorious result.
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Dolman Law Group was founded in 2009 by Matthew Dolman, Esq., the President, and partner Christian Myer, Esq. Both Matthew and Christian attended Stetson University majoring in trial advocacy; Stetson has one of the highest rated trial advocacy programs in the nation. They were both also selected as Florida Super Lawyers in 2013 – 2015, a prestigious title given by Super Lawyers rating service to outstanding lawyers as voted on by fellow members of the Florida Bar. Not only was Matthew selected as a “National Top 100 Trial Lawyer”, but also as a “Top 40 Under 40” by NTL (National Trial Lawyers Organization), and scores a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo.com, a respected online legal directory.
Our firm operates in the Bay Area but serves the entire state of Florida. Focusing on personal injury law, Dolman Law Group represents many practice areas, including those who have been injured in car and motorcycle accidents, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, slip and fall accidents, distracted or drunk driving, and more. At our firm, we’re on your side, and being home to eight experienced, successful and professional attorneys makes having Dolman Law fight for you a wise choice. We provide an important gateway for success as well by providing our clients with the personal cell phone number of the attorney dealing with their case, enabling the creation of real relationships and connections.
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