A herniated disc is one of the most common back injuries. According to the Cleveland Clinic, up to two percent of people in the U.S. will suffer herniated disc injuries this year. Some are age-related, but traumatic accidents are another common culprit. Slip-and-falls, traffic accidents, and workplace mishaps are all common causes of herniated discs.
A herniated disc injury can put you out of commission, leaving you unable to work, perform everyday tasks, and participate in the activities you love. You shouldn’t be forced to bear the burden of a chronic medical condition if someone else caused it.
In South Carolina, compensation is possible for people hurt due to another party’s negligence. An experienced herniated disc injury lawyer can help you pursue the money you need to restore your health and get your life back on track.
At Joye Law Firm, our experienced legal team offers compassionate guidance and delivers meaningful results. Let us help you pursue the money you deserve after a back injury that was not your fault. Contact us today for a free consultation with a North Charleston herniated disc injury lawyer.
Experience Handling Cases Involving Herniated Discs
Our firm has handled many injury claims involving herniated discs including a workers’ compensation claim for a crane operator injured during construction of Charleston’s Cooper River Bridge.
A few months into construction a crane operator, Allen Peters, was moving equipment from one barge to another when he felt a sharp pain in his back. Initially, he thought the pain was from a pulled muscle and continued to work through the pain until it got to the point where he needed surgery. At that time he filed a workers’ compensation claim. The initial claim was denied by the company due to the injury not being immediately reported. Mr. Peters knew he needed help and hired Kenny Harrell, the managing partner of the Joye Law Firm to represent him.
Mr. Harrell was able to get Mr. Peters’ claim fully compensable meaning all of his treatment costs to date would be covered, his back-owed weekly disability benefits would be paid and he would receive weekly benefits payments until he reached maximum medical improvement. Read more about this herniated disc injury.
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc is a type of spinal injury. A thick cord of nerves called the spinal cord runs from the base of the brain to the lower back. The spinal cord relays messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Individual bones called vertebrae protect this bundle of nerves. There are 33 vertebrae in the human body, divided into five spinal regions:
- Coccyx or tailbone
Soft discs are located between each vertebra in the spine’s cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. These discs have a semi-firm outer layer and a soft jelly-like interior and act like cushions, preventing vertebrae from rubbing together. The buffer these discs provide also facilitates pain-free movement.
A herniated disc occurs when the jelly-like center of a disc pushes through a crack or rupture in the firm outer layer of the disc. When the soft interior of the disc seeps through the rupture, the material can put pressure on nearby spinal nerves, causing pain and discomfort.
Age is one factor that increases the risk of disc herniation. However, violent or traumatic events can easily cause these injuries. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, and workplace injuries often result in injured or ruptured discs.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Herniated disc injuries can occur anywhere in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar region. However, most occur in the lower back (lumbar region). The symptoms of a herniated disc may include:
- Neck or back pain
- Pain that radiates into the arms or legs
- Numbness and tingling
- Muscle weakness
Because herniated disc symptoms vary from person to person, they can mimic other types of neck and back injuries. If you begin experiencing pain after an accident, seek medical attention immediately as back and neck injuries can worsen over time.
Diagnosis of a Herniated Disc
Back pain is a common complaint following an accident. Differentiating between generalized back pain and a herniated disc takes a careful review of your symptoms by a medical professional.
Most physicians will first conduct a thorough physical exam and assess your level of pain, your reflexes, and the location of any numbness or muscle weakness. Next, your doctor may order a series of diagnostic tests such as:
- CT scans
These tests can help your physician identify the location of a spinal injury and whether there is a noticeable distortion in the spine. In most cases, an X-ray alone cannot verify a disc herniation. Instead, an X-ray can help rule out other potential spinal conditions or abnormalities before your physician orders a more in-depth scan like a CT or MRI.
A test called a myelogram might also help identify a herniated disc. During a myelogram, a special contrast dye is injected into the spine. The dye can help reveal whether there is a narrowing of the spinal canal and indicate the presence of a bulging or herniated disc.
Herniated Disc Treatment
Your doctor will work with you to address your pain and determine a treatment plan that best addresses your unique medical needs. In some cases, the pain and discomfort from a herniated disc will resolve over time. Rest, over-the-counter pain medications, and applying heat and ice may be enough to relieve a minor disc injury.
Severe herniated disc injuries may require more extensive medical intervention, including prescription medications, physical therapy, and spinal injections of an epidural steroid. In rare cases, patients undergo spinal surgery.
Several types of spinal surgeries may be effective in relieving the pain of a herniated disc injury and preventing nerve damage and deterioration. The technique your doctor chooses will depend on the location of the disc and how the surrounding spinal structures are affected.
Surgical procedures used to treat herniated discs can include:
- Discectomy– Removal of the herniated disc
- Laminectomy – Removal of one or more vertebrae around the injured disc to expand the spinal canal
- Artificial disc surgery – Replacing the damaged disc with an artificial one
- Spinal fusion – The fusing together of two or more vertebrae to stabilize the spine
Any type of herniated disc surgery is risky and expensive. Compensation from a personal injury claim can help cover your medical and rehabilitation expenses if someone else’s carelessness led to your injury.
How Does Having a Pre-Existing Spinal Injury Affect my Herniated Disc Claim?
A pre-existing spinal condition can make obtaining compensation for a herniated disc more challenging. Insurers and opposing attorneys may use your pre-existing medical condition to argue that an accident was not the ultimate cause of your injury.
Herniated disc injuries become a more common risk as a person ages — especially for those with pre-existing spinal conditions. However, individuals who routinely lift heavy objects, engage in repetitive motions for work, or whose disc injury directly results from a traumatic event have the right to request compensation for their losses. An insurer or attorney might assert your injuries result from a degenerative condition, not necessarily the acute trauma caused by a significant accident. But an experienced herniated disc lawyer can counter the pre-existing spinal injury argument by presenting evidence and medical documentation showing the difference between your pre-accident and post-accident conditions.
Consider keeping a pain journal if your daily struggles, quality of life changes, and medical recovery after a herniated disc injury. This journal can help your attorney link the injury to the accident and demonstrate its impact on your life.
Determining the Value of Your Herniated Disc Case
How much your herniated disc case is worth depends on several factors, including the severity of the injury, whether an underlying condition exacerbated it, and how clearly another party is to blame. At Joye Law Firm, our experienced legal team will thoroughly investigate your case and collect evidence that helps establish the full value of your claim. Our attorneys have a proven track record of success and will negotiate aggressively for maximum compensation for you.
South Carolina law allows injured people to pursue compensation for the measurable financial losses and the more subjective quality-of-life changes they suffer after an accident. Potential types of compensation include:
- Medical expenses and in some cases, future medical expenses
- Physical therapy and other rehabilitation
- Lost wages, if you are unable to work
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Disability and diminished quality of life
If your herniated disc results from a job injury, consult a workers’ compensation attorney from Joye Law Firm. Our lawyers can explain the process for obtaining workers’ comp benefits and determine whether you might have a third-party personal injury claim for your herniated disc injury.
Get in Touch with Our North Charleston Personal Injury Lawyers for Help with Your Herniated Disc Case
If you are feeling worried and stressed after an accident that wasn’t your fault, Just call Joye. Since 1968, our North Charleston personal injury lawyers have helped South Carolinians put their lives back together following devastating accidents throughout the Palmetto State. We are prepared to represent you aggressively and fight for every penny you deserve.
It’s easy to learn your legal options. Contact Joye Law Firm today for a free case review.