Can Back Pain from Car Accidents Be the Result of a Herniated Disc?

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After car accidents, it’s not uncommon for someone to experience pain and stiffness. What if your back pain from car accident is more than just a little discomfort? After all, you weren’t going that fast, so how bad could it be?

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how fast you were going. Serious injury is possible at any speed. Herniated discs is a common complaint for accident victims. 

What does disc herniation mean? What treatment options are available, and will insurance pay for them? You are in pain, up to your stiffened neck in paperwork, and afraid that you may be hurt worse than your thought. On top of that, you have a lot of questions about your back pain. Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about back pain from your car accident.

What is a Herniated Disc?

text book picture comparison of normal disc vs a herniated disc pushing on nerve and causing back pain

Small, gel-filled pillows separate the vertebrae in your spine. They act as shock absorbers. When these are healthy and working as they should, they will protect your vertebrae. They allow smooth, pain free movement in your spine. When a trauma affects these discs, they can rupture, allowing the gel to leak out of them. The injured disc can also shift out of place and hit the nerves of the spine. This is what we refer to as a herniated disc. As you can imagine, this is a very painful situation to find yourself in and it won’t just go away on its own.

To make matters worse, the pain of the herniated disc isn’t necessarily felt at the site of the injury. Pain and numbness can be felt in the extremities, such as across the buttocks, down the thigh and through the foot, depending on where the injured disc is located in the spine.  When pain travels, it is “radiating.” Radiated pain is caused by the pinching of the delicate nerves in the spine caused when the disc is flattening or shifted out of place.

Back Pain from Car Accidents and Herniated Discs

Remember that a herniated disc is usually caused by trauma. And a car accident can cause huge amounts of spinal injury.

After car accidents, the emergency room will probably take a series of X-rays to rule out injuries. While they can see the vertebrae of the spine, they cannot see the discs. Only an MRI or CT Scan will show these discs. Doctors who don’t perform extra tests can’t diagnose a herniated disc. Without more tests, they can’t understand the pain their patient can be in following a car accident.

Each person processes pain differently. We can’t rate the degree of injury on the patient’s level of pain. If you are up and walking around at the accident scene, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t injured. You may be more stoic when dealing with pain.

(See Do I Need Medical Treatment After a Car Accident?)

Are Herniated Discs Compensable by Auto Insurance Companies? 

The high cost of back pain from car accident treatment illustration with money, calculator, stethoscope and charts

Victims of car accidents have pain, disability, and loss of income from a herniated disc. They may start to wonder how much the car insurance company will compensate them for all of the pain, suffering and inconvenience.

Herniated discs can be covered by auto insurance. But like any other accident related injury it may depend on a wide variety of factors.

Is the other driver at fault?

Does the other driver have good insurance?

Do you have a pre-existing condition that is causing your discomfort?

How much is the injury negatively impacting your life?

The answers to these questions will dictate your compensation. Sometimes the injury will involve chronic pain that is not eased by therapy or surgery. If this is the case, the patient is entitled to very large settlements of six or even seven figures.

What is the Best Treatment Option for a Herniated Disc

Spinal injuries like herniated discs will not just go away on their own. They require treatment, and when it comes to your back, the less invasive treatment option is always the best choice.

The discs in the spine are constantly under tremendous amounts of pressure. Treating discs with non-surgical spinal decompression is a great choice in treating a herniate disc. This is a gentle treatment without incisions, scarring, screws or other hardware. It also does not require visits or stays in a hospital. This is the treatment plan of choice for many back, neck, and disc related injuries and conditions.

The FDA has recognized spinal decompression as a valid treatment option instead of back or neck surgery. The procedure has been proven over and over as an effective treatment, not only for herniated discs, but for many other spine and neck conditions. Spinal decompression therapy has a proven success rate of over 80 percent. It is far less expensive and completely noninvasive when compared to surgical procedures.

Spinal decompression treatment takes place on a computer-controlled traction table. You are strapped in with a harnesses fitted around your waist and hips. These harnesses gently stretch the spine. This allows the disc to slide back into its original placement and regain its shape. Traction therapy forms negative pressure in the spine. Negative pressure “sucks” the gel back into the disc. Once things are repositioned, water and nutrients can return to the disc and spine because of the increased blood flow to the injured area.

Often, spinal decompression involves gentle physical therapy either before or after the therapy. The therapy sessions, as a rule, will last between a half hour to 45 minutes over a course of 20 to 30 treatments.  

No matter the source of your neck discomfort, back pain, or disc herniation, non-surgical spinal decompression may be the answer you’re looking for. Call and schedule your consultation and evaluation so you can start living your best life, pain free.

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