After a car accident, it may take weeks or months to realize that the automobile accident caused a herniated disc. Why is that? What is a disc herniation and how is a herniated disc diagnosed. Although I am not a doctor (and you should not rely on me for medical advise), here is some of what I have learned over nearly 30 years in the personal injury law field.
A herniated disc in the lower back typically occur during an episode of sudden violence such as a car accident, a fall or being struck in the back with a heavy object. It is the most common recognized cause of low back pain that lasts longer than several weeks. It is also termed as a disc protrusion or disc rupture. What happens after the event depends on what you and your doctor does.
Some people who suffer a herniated disc do nothing. They have pain or tenderness in the lower back, but they hope it goes away. This could result in serious injury in the future if untreated. Thus, a thorough physical examination should be performed. The physical examination should fully evaluate not only the lumbar spine and lower extremities but other parts of the body and the pulses in the thigh and foot to rule out diseases in those areas that may refer pain to the back.
A thorough physical examination and analysis of the location of the symptoms can often determine the level of the herniated disc. For example, a disc herniation at the L5-S1 level causes pain in the middle of the buttock, the rear of the thigh, the back of the calf down to the heel, and the bottom of the foot and fourth and fifth toes. A herniated disc in another level causes pain and sensory loss in the front of the thigh and knee. When another level is involved, straight-leg testing causes pain at 30 to 40 degrees, compared to the normal 90 degrees. These are tests that the doctor can perform to determine whether you have a herniated disc or other lumbar injury.
The symptoms of a herniated disc are usually produced on only one side because the herniation usually occurs on only one side. Symptoms on both sides of the body may be produced when an extruded material is large enough to affect roots on both sides of the vertebral canal.
While assessing whether you have a herniated disc or not, your doctor will likely inquire as to symptoms in your legs. A characteristic of a herniated disc is that it is intensified by back or leg movements.
In most cases of low back pain, however, a precise diagnosis of a herniated disc cannot be made without a MRI. An x-ray only captures pictures of bone structure whereas an MRI uses a magnetic field which produces two-dimensional or cross-sectional views of the body, which greatly helps doctors in identifying a herniated disc. This enables the doctor to see the condition and progression of the discs. Most doctors use MRIs to confirm their diagnosis of a herniated disc.
If you are suffering from lower back pain that isn’t going away after a few days, you should consult with a doctor especially if you are having pain radiating into your legs. It doesn’t take a horrific car accident to cause a herniated disc. It can happen in a rather minor car accident depending on your condition and positioning in the car. Don’t tough it out, check it out.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.