The bones of the back (spine) are called vertebrae and they are distinguished by numbered segments. When vertebrae segments move or go into motion, they are cushioned by small discs that are round and flat, with a tough outer shell (capsule) that surrounds a jelly-like center (nucleus). These discs serve as shock absorbers. An analogy can be like a jelly stuffed doughnut. Through time, these spinal discs become more rigid with age and therefore become more vulnerable to injury as a result of the normal aging process. Many people develop disc deterioration, or degenerative disc disease, as they grow older, and this is part of the normal aging process. This point becomes more clear when you have a disc injury earlier in life (from a sporting activity, or accident) can predispose a person to degenerative disc disease later in life. This is just a medical fact of life.
A disc damaged by the trauma of an accident, car, motorcycle, truck, slip and fall, or any accident causing vertebrae segment movement, can bulge or rupture putting pressure on the adjacent nerve roots as it pushes out or pinches the nerve root. This is called a "herniated disc" and it can aggravate a nerve partially or, worse, directly. This will cause pain in the person's back/spinal area. Pain or numbness can occur in the area of the body affected by that nerve too; it does not just have to be isolated in the back spinal region. For example, a herniated disc may press on one of the nerve roots of the large nerve that extends from the lower back down the back of the leg, causing pain and numbness in the leg. This is a condition called sciatica. In my San Diego Spinal Cord Injury law practice, I see this sciatica condition get aggravated all the time. The injured client was fine before the accident, then later, after the trauma forces of the accident, he or she has this sciatica nerve pain condition.
The Following are Symptoms of a Spinal Disc Injury You Should Look Out For:
Symptoms of a herniated lumbar include:
- Low back pain
- Muscle spasms
- Tingling ("pins and needles" sensation) or numbness in one leg
- Weakness in certain muscles in one or both legs
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
Back and disc injuries, such as herniated or bulging discs, can be life changing, affecting a person's career and recreational activities; all of these details need to be properly documented in the medical findings so it can be presented to the at-fault insurance company's claims adjuster, or jury trial if necessary.