Back injuries are the most common injuries caused by automobile accidents and workplace trauma. Unexpected impact from an collision, lifting, twisting, fatigue, falls and trauma are the most common causes of back injuries which account for 75% of all workers’ compensation and auto accident claims.
Back injuries can be minor (mild sprains or strains) to severe and disabling (disc herniations and other disorders of the spinal column). The more severe back injuries often become chronic and disabling for workers’, flaring up with or without new trauma. Disc herniations can be treated in a number of ways from conservative (rest and medication) to more aggressive (injections and/or surgery). It is important to understand the signs and symptoms of disc herniations to help your doctor arrive at a diagnosis as early as possible. Early diagnosis often leads to better results from treatment.
The back is divided into three levels. The top or the cervical level (from the base of the skull through the neck). The mid or the thoracic level (below the neck down between the shoulder blades to just above the waist), and the low or lumbar level (from the waist down to the sacrum). Significant back injuries can result in herniated discs in any of these levels. By definition a herniated disc is a rupture of the nucleus propulsus which causes irritation of the spinal nerves and applies pressure to the spinal cord. Depending upon where a herniation occurs, the patient may experience symptoms in other parts of their bodies (i.e., referred pain). For example, a neck injury may cause numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the arms, hands or fingers while a low back disc herniation is likely to cause pain & symptoms through buttocks into the legs and down into the patients feet and toes.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms following a neck or back injury, it is important to report this to your doctor. If symptoms persist your doctor should order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or other testing to determine if a disc herniation is present. Be sure to consistently report all symptoms to your doctor from the first visit to help the doctor arrive at a diagnosis and to help your attorney prove the relationship between your auto accident or workplace trauma and the medical condition.