In simple terms, the human spine consists of bones (vertebrae), the spinal cord, nerves, and intervertebral discs. The spinal cord is about 18 inches in length and extends from the base of the brain, surrounded by the vertebral bodies, down the middle of the back, to about the waist. The nerves branch out from the spinal cord to carry signals throughout the body.
Intervertebral discs, composed of a gel-like substance (nucleus pulposus) contained within an outer skin (anulus fibrosus), sit between the bony vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae and allow the spine to be flexible. The spinal cord runs parallel to the intervertebral discs within the spinal column.
Healthy intervertebral discs pose no threat to the spinal cord and nerve roots. However, trauma associated with accidents (slip & fall; motor vehicle crashes) may cause the nucleus pulposus to bulge or herniate (rupture). A bulge is when the nucleus pulposus becomes distorted but remains contained within the anulus fibrosis. A herniation is when the nucleus pulposus breaks through the anulus fibrosis.
As a result of pushing up against the spinal cord, bulges and herniations can cause severe neck and back pain, along with numbness and tingling in the extremities. The symptoms often prevent people from working and engaging in activities of daily living. Physical therapy and epidural injections are commonly prescribed to alleviate symptons. In some instances, surgery is necessary.
Bugles and herniations are visible through MRI imaging. Trained specialists also diagnosis these conditions clinically through physical examinations and symptom complaints.
I have represented hundreds of accident victims over the years. I continue to be surprised at how frequently my clients are diagnosed with these serious medical conditions.
If you or someone you know has sustained a bulging or herniated intervertebral disc from an accident, call our offices today for a fee consultation. If you do not have insurance, we can arrange for you to be treated by a specialist.