WHAT IS AN AGGRAVATED DISC?
INTRODUCTION Many accident victims have degenerative disc disease. The disease makes them more susceptible to injury. Even a modest accident can aggravate the pre-existing condition. A person whose spine is aggravated can still recover damages.
HOW OUR SPINE WORKSOur spine is made up of vertebrae, which are like blocks. The blocks are stacked on top of each other. In between each block is a “disc” that is like a jelly donut. The disc acts as a shock absorber and allows our spine to move freely.
WHAT HAPPENS AS WE AGEAs a person ages, the discs get old. They start to develop cracks. They weaken. They shrink. The breakdown of the disc is called degenerative disc disease.
HOW A DISC GETS AGGRAVATED BY TRAUMAA weakened disc is susceptible to injury. Trauma from an accident, even a minor one, can injure the disc. Trauma can cause the disc to bulge or protrude. A car collision can also cause the disc to break, which is commonly referred to as a herniated disc.
Damage to a disc is serious. When a disc bulges or herniates, it can touch nearby nerves from the spinal cord. When these nerves are pressed, a person experiences severe pain. The area becomes inflamed. A person may also experience numbness and tingling.
HOW A DAMAGED DISC IS DISCOVEREDAn MRI study is the best way to find out if a disc has been damaged. The study will show if a disc is bulging or herniated. The study will also show if nearby nerves are being harmed.
HOW A DAMAGED DISC IS TREATEDTreatment for a damaged disc typically involves two things. The first thing that must be done is to manage the pain caused by the disc. The disc causes inflammation that must be reduced. Typically, physical therapy and medication are used initially to reduce pain and increase mobility. When medication and therapy treatment fail, injections are used.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medicine are injected into the spine. The goal is to break the cycle of inflammation and pain as much as possible.
Injections do not fix the damaged disc.
Some accident victims can live with pain so long as the pain is being managed with medication or injections. Others are unable to tolerate the pain. They elect to undergo surgery. The goal of surgery is to take the pressure off the nerves and eliminate pain.
There are several surgical options. Two standard procedures are an artificial disc replacement or a fusion. A disc replacement includes removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial disc that consists of plastic and metal. The artificial disc is designed to move and act like a real disc.
A fusion includes removing the damaged disc. Metal plates and screws are used to stabilize the bones above and below where the disc was removed.
CONCLUSIONIf you have suffered a neck or back injury from a car collision, you need appropriate medical attention to determine if you have suffered a disc injury. We can help you. Call MCIS for a free consultation.