Lumbar Disk Herniation
The spine consists of individual vertebrae stacked together, all separated by a disk of padding. This padding separates the bony vertebrae enough that nerves from the spinal cord are able to pass in and out of the spinal canal without being compressed or injured. This arrangement allows the spine to flex, extend and rotate, particularly at the waist – which corresponds to the lumbar region of the back. Thus, this region is also the most susceptible to injury, but it can also occur higher in the back or in the neck.
Disk disease sometimes occurs in elderly individuals due to the degenerative forces and the "wear and tear" of the spine over time. In this situation, the tissue weakens and the disk slowly begins to protrude from between the vertebrae. In the setting of trauma, disk herniation is more common in middle-aged and elderly individuals due to the natural degeneration that has already occurred with age increasing their susceptibility. With a motor vehicle accident or a fall, a large compressive force from above the head or below the feet can result in a disk herniation.
Even in the setting of a traumatic disk herniation, you may not notice any symptoms for some time, if ever (although it is rare for it to never cause any problems). If it does cause a significant amount of nerve compression, the symptoms you may experience depend on the exact location of the injury.
During a car accident, it is common for a disk herniation to happen at the level of your hips. This may cause any of the following symptoms:
- Pain that spreads from the back down the side of the leg and into the foot
- Weakness when flexing the foot, extending the toe, and/or rotating the foot inward and outward
- Decreased or absent feeling in the outside area of the calf and the top of the foot
The next common site for a herniation is between your hips and tailbone and can cause symptoms such as:
- Pain that spreads from the back down through the bottom and through the back of the leg and even into the heel
- Again, you may have weakness when trying to flex the foot, but in addition, you may have weakness when attempting to extend the leg at the hip and/or flexing the toe
- Decreased or absent feeling down the back of the leg
Another common site to have a disk herniation is located just above the hips; it can result in symptoms of:
- Back pain that spreads down the front of the leg into the knee
- You may have weakness when flexing at the hip or extending the knee
- Feeling may be decreased or reduced over the front of the thigh and the inside part of the calf
Treatment and Prognosis
A doctor may recommend muscle relaxers, such as Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) or Diazepam (Valium), to help relax the muscles in your back and relieve some of the pain. Your doctor may also recommend some pain medication with anti-inflammatory effects, such as Ibuprofen (Motrin, Aleeve).
If the symptoms of pain, weakness, and decreased sensation persist for an extended period of time, surgery may be needed to relieve the compression on the nerve.
Effective Legal Counsel and Representation
Our St. Louis lumbar injury attorneys have the legal experience to help those injured by another person's negligence seek the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has suffered a herniated disc injury in a car crash or another accident caused by negligent actions, our lawyers can help. Call (314) 322-8515 now to learn how we can protect your legal rights.