VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: I’m Ira Maurer, founder of the Maurer Law Firm, which is located in Fishkill, New York in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Welcome to our website. At the Maurer Law Firm, we represent clients who live in the Northeast Region of the United States who’ve become victims of serious injury due to a motor vehicle accident, railroad accident, or some other type of traumatic event. At the Maurer Law Firm, it’s our belief that every client needs to be educated about their injury and how the legal process works.
Many of our clients who’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident have suffered a serious injury to their spine. I’m going to focus on spine injuries during this educational video. The spine is principally made up of vertebrae bones that are the building blocks of the spine. There are also discs located between the vertebrae that are made of cartilage and act as a shock-absorber and space-maintainers. The spine also has ligaments that connect bone to bone and hold the discs in place between the bones. There are also nerves that convey directions to muscles to act and relay sensations such as pain and numbness to the brain.
Finally, there are muscles that run up and down the spine like a pulley system that supports the spine’s structure. In total, there are seven cervical vertebrae at the top of the spine in the neck, 12 thoracic vertebrae in the middle of the spine, five lumbar vertebrae in the lower spine and the sacrum which is located at the bottom of the spine.
The spinal cord travels down the spine from the skull and stops in the vicinity of the first lumbar vertebrae located about your waist. From that point, nerves continue down and exit from the spine through openings called foramina, located on both sides of the spine at each level. One of the most common injuries that is suffered by victims of a rear-end and head-on car accident is a herniated disc. So, what exactly is a herniated disc?
A disc herniation also called a slipped disc, or a ruptured disc usually occurs in the lower back or in the neck. Herniated discs happen when an injury causes the jelly-like substance in the center of the disc to protrude through a tear in the outer ring of the disc. Potentially, placing pressure on the spinal cord or nerves that exit from the spinal column. Even minimal pressure can result in severe pain.
An analogy that may help you to understand the mechanism of a disc herniation is what happens when you squeeze a grape. By squeezing one side of a grape, you cause the other side of the grape to stretch, tear and permit the inside of the grape to come through the tear. That’s exactly what happens with a herniated disc. So how exactly do doctors diagnose a herniated disc?
A trained orthopedist and neurosurgeon are able to isolate the source of a patient’s spinal complaints through a combination of physical examination, diagnostic tests, and by obtaining an accurate medical history from the patient. While a physical exam will yield helpful basic information, the use of modern diagnostic studies is frequently necessary if the patient’s complaints appear to be the result of more than a mild sprain or strain of a soft tissue.
A CT scan is a computerized x-ray procedure that combines many x-ray images with the aid of a computer to generate cross-sectional views and if needed, three-dimensional images of the internal organs and structures of the body. A CT scan is used to define normal and abnormal structures in the body and/or assist in procedures by helping to accurately guide the placement of instruments or treatments. CT scans are generally more useful in looking at bones as opposed to soft tissue.
An MRI is a computerized test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases, MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan. MRI testing will show most herniated discs. However, sometimes, the tearing of the outside of the disc is subtle, permitting irritating caustic fluid to leak out of the disc and causing significant pain. An MRI may not reveal this kind of damage.
Sometimes, the ligament that holds the disc in place between the spinal vertebrae tears but the center of the disc does not escape through the tear. This may result in a negative MRI test, but the patient may still experience significant pain and disability. A herniated disc can also cause tingling, numbness, burning sensations, muscle weakness, and in catastrophic cases, a loss of bladder control or bowel control. Herniated discs in the lower back may cause sharp, throbbing, or burning pain in the back that radiates down the sciatic nerve that exits from the lower back and extends down the legs to the feet.
Injuries in the neck—in addition to causing sharp, throbbing, or burning pain in the neck—may also cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the shoulders, arms, and hands as well as headaches. Pain and additional symptoms may prevent you from sleeping or performing daily tasks and returning to work.
Most spinal complaints result from an injury or from arthritic degenerative changes that take place over time in all human beings. Trauma can cause damage to the discs and can also aggravate a pre-existing arthritic condition that previously was not causing any discomfort. So how do doctors treat herniated discs? The answer will be provided in part two of this spine series.
Thank you for watching this educational video. For more information, please visit our website at M-A-U-R-E-R law.net. Or, call the Maurer Law Firm at (845) 896-5295 to schedule a free in-depth consultation to review your personal injury claim today. At the Maurer Law Firm, we treat your injuries and the impact they have on you and your family personally, as if our own lives depend on it.