If you suffered a neck, back or spinal cord injury, our lawyers can help you get compensation for medical and expenses caused by your accident.
A herniated cervical disc (neck injury) is one of the most common injuries our attorneys see and deal with. Herniated cervical disc injuries are trauma related injuries that are usually caused by car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, or slip and fall accidents.
The spine consists of a column of bones known as the vertebral column. The spinal cord runs through this vertebral column. The vertebral column consists of 33 bones or vertebra that protect the sensitive spinal cord. Nerves from the spinal cord travel outside this column of bones known as the vertebral column where they transmit signals to the rest of our body. The vertebrae themselves are separated by intervertebral discs. These discs act like the shock absorbers of the spine and also help the spine bend, twist and turn. The discs are like jelly donuts. The outer layer of the disc is known as the annulus fibrosus. This outer annulus fibrosus layer is like the outside of the jelly donut. The inner layer is known as the nucleus pulposus and it contains a jellylike substance. This jellylike substance helps the disc maintain its form by distributing weight evenly throughout the disc.
The spine consists of 33 vertebrae, 7 of which at located in the cervical spine or neck, and 23 discs, 6 of which are located in the cervical region. The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull and runs down to the shoulder blades where it connects to the thoracic spine. The first vertebra at the base of the skull is C1 followed by C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7. The discs are number by their location within the vertebral column. A disc between the second cervical vertebra (C2) and third cervical vertebra (C3) is the C2-3 disc.
When a disc suffers an injury, the outer layer of the disc or donut gets stretched and then cracks which causes the jellylike material inside to ooze out. Often times the oozing disc material leaks into the spinal canal where it comes in contact with a nerve exiting from the spinal column. When the jelly escapes the disc it’s known as a herniated disc. The pressure that the oozing material places on the surrounding spinal nerve can create great pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in other areas of the body. If a disc that is located between the vertebrae of the cervical spine—the neck—is herniated or ruptures then the pressure placed on the nerves in this area can create weakness, numbness, a sensation of pins and needles, or sharp shooting pain in the arms, shoulders and hands. This is known as cervical radiculopathy.
As we age the outer layer of the disc or annulus fibrosus losses its strength and becomes weaker. Over time discs get dehydrated which caused the outer annulus fibrosus to crack. A disc that is in a degenerative condition like this is more prone to herniation when it suffers the trauma of a car, truck or motorcycle accident.
Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Massachusetts. They cause a wide variety of injuries. Some of the most common injuries are herniated discs. Rear-end accidents, side-impact collisions and head-on crashes can whip a motor vehicle occupant’s head back and forth or side to side in a matter of milliseconds. When a head with an average weight of 10 to 12 pounds gets whipped back and forward in a crash it creates considerable amount stress on the vertebra in the cervical spine. During a crash the cervical neck tries to stabilize the head in order to prevent it from snapping back and forth. This places a tremendous amount of stress on the head and spine which results in herniated discs.
Symptoms of a Herniated or Bulging Cervical Disc
A cervical herniated disc causes pain patterns and symptoms accordingly
- Herniated Disc at C4 – C5: Can result in weakness in the deltoids muscle located in the upper arm and or shoulder pain. A C4-C5 herniated disc usually doesn’t result in tingling, numbness or pins and needles.
- Herniated Disc at C5 – C6: Can result in weakness in the biceps and wrist muscles. Other symptoms include tingling, numbness and pins and needles along with pain that radiates down to the thumb. A herniated disc at C5-C6 is very common.
- Herniated Disc at C6 – C7: Can result in weakness in the triceps and top of the wrist. Other symptoms include tingling, numbness and pins and needles along with pain that radiates down to the triceps and into the middle finger. A herniated disc at C5-C6 is very common. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate down the triceps and into the middle finger.
- Herniated Disc at C7 – T1: Can result in weak hand strength and grip. Other symptoms include tingling, numbness and pins and needles along with pain that radiates down to the arm into the little finger.
Neglecting to address a serious herniated disc injury could leave you with permanent nerve damage. Herniated discs can repair themselves with physical therapy and rest. However, several other courses of medical treatment are available depending on the circumstances of the particular injury, including:
- Cortisone Injections
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Facet Joint Nerve Block Injections
- Nerve Burning Procedure
- Spinal Fusion
- Artificial disc replacement
- Total Disc Replacement
Herniated discs can go undiagnosed. It is critical that your treating doctor perform a thorough medical exam after your accident. Your pain and symptoms might not indicate that you have a herniated disc. If you are taken to the emergency room from the scene of an accident the emergency room physician might order an X-ray, CT-Scan or MRI. An MRI is best for diagnosing herniated discs. If the emergency room doctor informs you that you have suffered a herniated disc it is important that you follow his or her instructions. They will likely advise you to make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible. In most cases your primary care doctor will then refer you to an orthopedic of some sort. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment — it is your primary care doctor that will get you on the path to recovery by outlining a suitable course of treatment.
Our attorneys have over thirty years of experience representing clients with herniated and bulging disc injuries. We are in the position to provide you with the knowledge and experience that comes with dealing with these types of injuries for over thirty years. We are in the best position to handle your case through settlement negotiations or a jury trial.