Spine and Back Injury Accident Attorneys
Serving all of SE Massachusetts
A herniated lumbar disc (lower back injury) is one of the most common injuries our attorneys see and deal with. Herniated lumbar 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 the vertebral column. These vertebrae protect the sensitive spinal cord. Nerves from the spinal cord travel outside the column of bones known as the vertebral column where they transmit signals to the rest of our body. The vertebrae 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, 5 of which are located in the lumbar spine or lower back, and 23 discs, 5 of which are located in the lumbar region. The lumbar spine begins at the end of the thoracic spine in the middle of the back and runs down to the tailbone. The first vertebra is L1 followed by L2, L3, L4 and L5. The discs are number by their location within the vertebral column. A disc between the second lumbar vertebra (L2) and third lumbar vertebra (L3) is the L2-3 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. 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 in other areas of the body. If a disc located between the vertebrae of the lumbar spine—the lower back—is herniated or ruptures then the pressure placed on the nerves in this area can create weakness, numbness, pin and needles, or sharp shooting pain in legs and feet. This is known as lumbar radiculopathy.
As we age the outer layer of the disc or annulus fibrosus losses its strength and becomes weaker. Over time the disc gets 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.
Symptoms of a Herniated or Bulging Lumbar Disc
A lumbar herniated disc causes pain patterns and symptoms accordingly. Mostly all lumbar herniated discs occur at the bottom of the spine at L4-5 or L5-S1. In addition to typical sciatica symptoms, nerve impingement at these levels can lead to:
- Herniated Disc at L4-5: Can result in weakness in the big toe and ankle. Numbness, tingling, pins and needles and pain can radiate down on to top of the foot and also into the buttock.
- Herniated Disc at L5-S1: Can result in loss of strength ankle and calve. Numbness, tingling, pins and needles and pain can radiate down to the sole or outside of the foot.
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.
You May Be Entitled To Compensation For Your Injuries
Our spinal injury 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.
Serious back injuries can require ongoing medical treatment years into the future. A long lasting back injury can result in large ongoing medical expenses, chronic pain, missed work and loss of income. Back injury claims and litigation are highly complex and usually take a very long time to resolve. To receive compensation for your past and future lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering you will need an injury lawyer that is familiar with back injury law and the back injury claims process.
Contact our attorneys today to insure your rights and best interest are served.