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Herniated Disc: Causes, Symptoms, and Complications

Spinal discs play a crucial role in the human body, helping to absorb shock, support the upper body, and allow us to move in a wide range of directions. These discs are both extremely tough, but vulnerable to damage. Each spinal disc is made up of a delicate jelly-like interior with a tough rubbery exterior. If the outer layer is damaged and the inner material is able to leak or bulge out, it can lead to debilitating back and leg pain.

A herniated disc can be caused by everything from a severe car accident to a slip and fall at the grocery store. This injury is notorious for two reasons: it’s relatively common and the injury can wreak havoc on a person’s life.

If you’re suffering from a herniated disc, it’s likely that you never gave much thought to movements that have now become painful. A herniated disc can make it painful or impossible to work or take care of your household. Even just sitting can be painful when you are dealing with a spinal disc injury.

If you are currently suffering from a herniated disc, you’ve already had expensive and time-consuming treatments. Or you know you need them but have no idea how you’ll pay for them. If another party caused your herniated disc, you could get compensation for the damages caused by your injury. An experienced Chicago back and neck injury attorney can help you get the most for your injury claim. So you can heal and get on with your life.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

In the simplest of terms, a herniated disk refers to damage to one of the rubbery disks that sit between the individual vertebrae that stack to make up your spine. It develops when one of the cushioning discs between the vertebral bones is torn or ruptured.

Herniated Disc - Abels and Annes Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys

The thick, protective layer of a disc is known as the annulus. It encases a soft, gelatinous substance in the center known as the nucleus pulposus. When the annulus is torn, the soft part of the disc protrudes through the outer wall.

A herniated disc is sometimes referred to as a ‘slipped disc’ or a ‘ruptured disc’. It is also often confused with a bulging disc. While similar, a bulging disc only affects the outer layer, or annulus.

A herniated disc is painful because, as it protrudes outward, it aggravates nearby sensitive nerves. This pressure on the nerves can lead to swelling and all kinds of other problems.

Nerves communicate to every part of our bodies. So pain from a herniated disc can travel just about anywhere in the body. The most common place people with a herniated disc feel pain, other than their back, is in their arms and legs as it radiates outward through the nervous system.

Causes of Herniated Discs

A herniated disc can be caused by any type of trauma to the spine. If your spine sustains sudden impact or is twisted beyond its limits, the discs between the vertebrae can rupture.

Herniated discs are not only caused by devastating accidents. Even a relatively minor incident can force a disc out of place.

According to hospital surveys, some of the most common reasons people suffer a herniated disc include:

Symptoms of Herniated Disc

Herniated discs share symptoms with other neck and back injuries (like whiplash, sprains and strains, bulging disc, and fractured vertebra).

Herniated discs commonly cause general pain symptoms–pain, tingling, and numbness–which can be misdiagnosed as a lesser injury at first. Usually, herniated discs are discovered through further testing like an MRI, CT scan, or myelogram.

Herniated discs are most common in the lower spine. But they can occur to any part of the spine.

In cases of herniated discs in the lower back, pain tends to shoot through the legs and buttocks. Herniated discs in the neck or upper back usually affect the arms and shoulders.

Pain from a disc herniation is most often pronounced when you’re active. However, it can be persistent when you’re just sitting or standing still.

Muscle weakness is another common symptom of a herniated disc. This can cause your legs or arms to suddenly give out when you’re walking or carrying something heavy.

Despite these common symptoms, there is also a nearly endless list of ways a herniated disc can affect you. Because damage to a spinal disc can affect the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, almost any part of your body can feel pain or have an adverse reaction while you are dealing with the injury.

Chronic Pain May Limit Abilities and Enjoyment of Life

Herniated discs can potentially lead to more severe problems such as cauda equina syndrome. Cauda equina syndrome develops when nerve damage leads to the loss of control over bowel movements.

Chronic pain associated with a herniated disc can also stop you from doing the things you love, like playing with your children and doing your favorite hobby. Taking your children to the park or walking your dog can become obstacles rather than enjoyable activities.

Chronic pain from a herniated disc can also jeopardize your income. If your pain impacts your ability to perform your job, you could be forced to take time off or to take a lower-paying position that’s easier on your body. Since a herniated disc can cause pain both while you are engaging in physical activity or just sitting, it can hinder almost every type of career.

Treatments for a Herniated Disc

Pain Relievers

Herniated discs can be treated with prescription pain medication, over-the-counter drugs, or a combination of the two. Your doctor may suggest a common drug like ibuprofen to help control inflammation. Or you may need something stronger while the injury heals or is being repaired. Unfortunately, prescription pain killers come with their own set of risks. Patients who legitimately need prescription painkillers can become dependent in as little as 5 days. Up to 12% of patients taking pain killer medications develop a full addiction. For this reason, prescription pain medications should be closely monitored by your doctors and always taken as prescribed.

Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers can also provide pain relief for a herniated disc. Their most common use is to treat the muscle spasms and tension that come with a spinal injury. The downside to muscle relaxers is that they’re sedatives. This means that they can hinder your ability to drive or perform job-related tasks.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is another common treatment for herniated disks. Deep tissue massages are one form of therapy used to treat muscle spasms and nerve pressure associated with back pain. Cold therapy is also used to target muscle spasms, pain, and inflammation, while heat therapy encourages healthy blood flow.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS is a form of therapy that uses electrical stimulation on the muscles to reduce spasms. The electrical impulses produced by TENS can reduce the pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain, which may help relieve pain and relax muscles.

Epidural Steroid Injections

These injections are delivered close to pinched nerves in the spine. Therapeutic injections can control pain, reduce inflammation, improve mobility, and allow a patient to participate in and make progress with their physical therapy and rehabilitation programs.

Surgical Intervention

Unfortunately, non-invasive treatments are not always enough. For many patients, surgery will eventually become a requirement to repair a herniated disc. Severe herniated discs can leave your back unstable and/or in an excruciating amount of pain. The type of surgery required will vary, but some common types include spinal fusion surgery, laminotomy, discectomy, and artificial disc surgery.

Get Compensation with the Help of a Chicago Back and Neck Injury Lawyer

If another person’s actions caused your herniated disc, you can pursue a claim against that party so that you can recover compensation for your damages. You may be eligible for compensation for any damages your injury causes. That includes medical treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

If you’re suffering from a back or neck injury that was caused by someone else’s negligent actions, Abels & Annes can help you to hold them accountable. We’ve secured maximum compensation for countless clients with herniated disc injuries. And we can help you too.

Let us use our experience and resources to help you get the money you need to move on with your life. For a free initial consultation, call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

Spinal Cord Injuries Often Lead to a Lifetime of Costs

Motor vehicle accidents – especially high-speed car, truck, and motorcycle accidents – are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is made up of numerous nerves and nerve endings that relay information from the brain and control motor movements throughout the body. When an accident victim’s spinal cord is seriously damaged, the injury all too often results in paralysis.

Paralysis means a loss of functionality in a particular muscle or muscle group. Paralysis can cause the accident victim to become totally incapacitated. It can also turn a previously self-sufficient person into someone who is completely dependent upon others.

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury because of another driver’s negligence, a catastrophic personal injury lawyer may be able to help. The at-fault party’s insurance company will have an attorney who will defend the case and most likely try to prevent you from recovering just compensation for your injuries. The Chicago spinal cord injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. have the necessary skills and experience to take on an at-fault party’s insurance company and fight for the rights of accident victims who suffer catastrophic injuries.

What Causes Spinal Cord Injuries?

Spinal cord injuries often occur when an accident victim sustains serious damage to his or her neck or back. These injuries can occur in serious car, truck, bicycle, motorcycle, boating, or slip-and-fall accidents, where the accident victim’s neck or back flexes or extends beyond its normal range of motion. This abnormal flexion or extension can seriously damage the accident victim’s spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries can lead to paralysis because the nerves inside a person’s spinal column control muscle movement throughout the body. More specifically:

  • The cervical spinal nerves control the upper body’s functioning
  • The lower spinal nerves around the lumbar spine control the lower body’s functioning
  • When the accident victim’s nerves are severed or otherwise impaired in an accident, paralysis can occur. Paralysis may consist of one or more of the following:
  • Monoplegia, where one limb is paralyzed
  • Hemiplegia, where the arm and the leg on one side of the body are paralyzed
  • Paraplegia, where both legs are paralyzed
  • Tetraplegia, where both arms and both legs are paralyzed

Treating Spinal Cord Injuries

Treating spinal cord injuries can be both extensive and expensive. Even with the advancements in medical treatment and technology, paralysis due to a spinal cord injury is not currently curable. Consequently, long-term treatment for spinal cord injuries often involves helping the victim become as independent as possible.

The medical costs associated with treating spinal cord and paralysis injury victims can range anywhere from hundreds of thousands to a million dollars—for just the first year after the injury. Lifetime medical costs may reach the multi-million dollar range. Treatment costs include medical procedures (including follow-up surgeries), physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation costs, and long-term or lifetime care, such as at a nursing home or assisted living facility. Total treatment costs may vary depending on the severity and type of accident which led to the spinal cord injury, the place where the accident occurred, the average costs of medical care and treatment in that particular area, the accident victim’s age, the accident victim’s overall health, and whether the victim has any other medical conditions or injuries.

Recovering Monetary Compensation for a Serious Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injury cases are complex – both from a medical perspective and from a legal perspective. In many cases, it is necessary for a doctor or other health care provider to testify as to the nature and extent of the spinal cord injury, the permanent impairment sustained, and the likely costs of future medical procedures and treatment related to the injury.

It is important to keep in mind that insurance companies are often skeptical of spinal cord injuries and other catastrophic injuries. They will likely examine all of the accident victim’s prior medical records and bills for any other potential causes of injury, such as preexisting medical conditions, prior injuries or nerve damage, and any prior accidents referenced in the victim’s medical records.

In addition to potential costs associated with future medical procedures and lifetime care, a spinal cord injury victim may also recover compensation for lost income, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of spousal companionship, loss of the use of a body part, and loss of enjoyment of life. An accident victim may also recover “loss of enjoyment” damages if no longer able to take part in a favorite activity, such as sports or other pastimes.

Call a Chicago Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation

If you have sustained a permanent spinal cord injury in an automobile, truck, or other accident, you may be able to pursue monetary compensation in your case. The spinal cord injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can be your advocates both during settlement negotiations, as well as in the courtroom. Contact us today to find out how we can help you recover monetary damages in your personal injury case.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois spinal cord injury lawyer, please call us at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.

The Lifelong Costs of a Complete Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious and life-altering injuries you can sustain. In fact, your life can be permanently and irrevocably altered in that very moment. Because spinal cord injuries are so severe, they are also often accompanied by overwhelmingly negative physical, emotional, and financial consequences. In fact, the damages that emanate from a serious spinal cord injury are difficult to overstate.

Complete Spinal Cord Injuries

Serious spinal cord injuries are typically categorized as either complete or incomplete injuries. A complete spinal cord injury means that all signaling from the brain to the body (at or below where the nerve damage occurs on the spinal cord) is cut off. Some level of paralysis is nearly guaranteed with such injuries.

Living with any degree of paralysis is obviously extremely difficult, and the effects typically include overwhelming reverberations for the sufferer’s emotional, financial, and physical well-being. Further, such injuries often incur secondary health issues that can be chronic. These secondary health concerns can include lung ailments such as pneumonia, respiratory issues, heart disease, and infections such as septicemia. To make things even more difficult, these secondary health issues aren’t always adequately covered by health insurance.

If you’ve suffered a complete spinal cord injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you very likely are utterly overwhelmed and have no idea where to turn. A personal injury attorney with experience navigating spinal cord injury claims can help. Although no amount of money can bring back what you’ve lost, just compensation can help you move forward and begin to build a new future for yourself and your family. The legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes is here to help.

The Lifelong Costs

Spinal cord injuries are permanent injuries, and as such, they incur significant medical expenses over the course of your life. While your age at the time of the injury and the severity of your injury play an obvious role in the related expenses, there are several categories of medical expenses to consider:

  • Spinal surgery or surgeries following the accident;
  • Trauma care, including the use of ventilators and other life-saving devices;
  • Rehabilitation, which can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychiatric and/or mental health counseling;
  • Long-term care, including home health care;
  • Medical equipment, including wheelchairs; and
  • Prescription medications, including medicines for pain and infections.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation estimates that – while the expenses vary considerably based on the severity of your injury and on your age at the time of injury – a complete spinal cord injury will cost you well over a million dollars for medical expenses alone.

Lost Wages and Earning Potential

Medical expenses are, of course, only the beginning when it comes to costs associated with spinal cord injuries. Many people who suffer complete spinal cord injuries remain permanently unemployed after they become injured. As such, lost wages and earning potential is one of the most detrimental costs associated with these injuries. The total amount of lost income is naturally dependent upon your age at the time of your accident and upon your earning bracket, but lost wages and earning potential play primary roles in the total expenses incurred by those who suffer complete spinal cord injuries.

Long-Term Costs

Spinal cord injuries are so all-encompassing and overwhelming that it can be difficult to grasp the scope of their long-term effects and expenses. If you’ve suffered a complete spinal cord injury, you are no doubt focused on your immediate medical and health needs – in fact, you probably have yet to even consider your long-term and ongoing needs. There are several categories of such needs that commonly apply:

  • Mental health care – Spinal cord injuries often necessitate significant expenses related to mental health care. After all, your life was upended in the blink of an eye, and that’s an overwhelming emotional blow. Ongoing treatment for the psychological component of such injuries is typically both necessary and expensive.
  • Long-term health concerns – Those who suffer from complete spinal cord injuries often suffer from secondary health issues throughout their lives. Respiratory infections are especially common.
  • Modifications to your home – If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, it’s very likely that you’ll need to make significant modifications to your home that will allow you to remain living there and to navigate throughout. Such modifications can include the redesign of your kitchen and bathrooms to accommodate your disabilities and the installation of elevators and/or ramps to allow you to get around.
  • Facilitative Transportation – A complete spinal cord injury can leave you unable to drive a typical vehicle or leave you unable to be transported in a typical vehicle. Many victims of such injuries require a wheelchair-accessible van (either to drive themselves or to be driven in).

These expenses outline the most basic costs associated with complete spinal cord injuries and should not be considered exhaustive. Every accident and resultant spinal cord injury is unique, but your personal injury attorney will work closely with you to assess your comprehensive and ongoing costs and expenses as they relate to your injury.

If someone else’s negligence has left you with a complete spinal cord injury, you need legal counsel. Although money can never restore you to your former health, your rights and your rightful compensation matter. Allow a personal injury attorney who focuses on spinal cord injuries to help navigate your claim toward the financial compensation to which you’re legally entitled.

If You’ve Suffered a Complete Spinal Cord Injury, Consult with a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Today

Suffering an injury in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence is always difficult. Suffering a complete spinal cord injury under such circumstances is catastrophic. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone; the dedicated legal team at the Law Firm of Abels & Annes has the compassion and commitment to aggressively advocate for your rights and for your rightful compensation. We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call our office at 312-924-7575 for a free consultation today.

Chicago Spinal Cord Injury FAQ – Part 2

Are There Different Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine,1 there are two main kinds of spinal cord injuries (SCIs): complete and incomplete. In an incomplete injury, the victim retains some function below the site of the injury. For example, a person with an incomplete injury, a victim may retain some feeling or movement in one side of the body than the other. In a complete spinal cord injury, victims have no sensation or movement below the site of the injury.

What is the Prognosis for a Spinal Cord Injury Victim?

The prognosis for spinal cord injuries depends largely on the severity of the injury. Generally speaking, the outlook is much better for victims who have sustained an incomplete SCI. On the other hand, currently, recovery from a complete spinal cord injury is unlikely, although recent advances in medicine using stem cells2 indicate that this soon may change.

How Much Will I Be Able to Recover for my Spinal Cord Injury?

There is no way to determine how much a spinal cord injury victim will recover without undertaking a thorough evaluation of his or her case. That being said because spinal cord injuries often result in profound and long-term problems, they tend to result in substantial compensation when they are the result of negligence. Some examples of the losses that are often compensable in a spinal cord injury case include the following:

  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Lost income
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of quality of life

It is important to keep in mind that spinal cord injury victims are often entitled to future damages in addition to damages they have already incurred. In these cases, it is often necessary to retain experts who can determine the amount of income a person would have made over the course of his or her career, extrapolate medical expenses, and place a value on the pain and suffering a victim will experience in the future.

Call Abels & Annes, P.C. Today to Speak to a Chicago Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

If you have sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident that you believe was caused by the negligence of another person, you should have your case reviewed by an attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago SCI lawyers, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.,P01180/

Chicago Spinal Cord Injury FAQ – Part 1

How Serious are Spinal Cord Injuries?

A spinal cord injury1 is among the most serious injuries a person can sustain. Because the spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that allows the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, any damage to it can result in serious complications, including paralysis below the site of the injury. Even in less serious cases, victims can experience issues like muscle weakness, limited mobility, numbness or tingling, and severe pain.

What Kinds of Accidents Can Cause Spinal Cord Injuries?

While spinal cord injuries are extremely serious, even fairly common accidents are capable of causing them. Some of the more common types of accidents that have the potential to result in spinal cord injuries include the following:

  • Slip and falls
  • Car accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Boat accidents
  • Pool and hot tub accidents

Do Victims Need to Retain an Attorney?

Many spinal cord accident victims wonder whether the need to retain an attorney. In many cases, the at-fault party (or an insurance company) makes what seems like a reasonable settlement offer shortly after the accident, potentially making it appear to victims that legal counsel is unnecessary. Spinal cord injury victims often deal with the effects of their injury for the rest of their lives, and victims need to keep in mind that once they settle is almost impossible reopen a case to obtain additional compensation.

For this reason, it is critical for spinal cord injury victims to calculate and pursue future damages2 in their settlement negotiations. These future damages should include lost income, future medical expenses, and the pain and suffering that victims will continue to experience for the rest of their lives, all of which can be extremely difficult to calculate. As a result, it is strongly recommended for any spinal cord accident victim to retain an attorney familiar with representing people who have sustained catastrophic injuries.

Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Schedule a Case Evaluation

Spinal cord injury victims can often recover significant compensation from the person or party responsible for their accident. To schedule a free consultation with a Chicago PI lawyer, call Abels & Annes, P.C. today at 312-924-7575 or contact us online.