The Most Common Injury, Yet It Is The One Most Rarely Diagnosed In The Emergency Room

Spinal cord injuries, including herniated discs, bulging discs, and ruptured discs (and sometimes referred to as “slip discs”), are by far the most common type of injuries we see in our personal injury practice. They dominate car accident and slip-and-fall type cases due to the stress these types of accidents put on your spine.

Disc injuries are rarely diagnosed when you are taken to the emergency room. What you almost always see are doctors diagnosing back “strains/sprains.” There are a couple of reasons for this. First, you are flooded with adrenaline, which your body uses to prepare itself for emergency actions — the fight or flight you probably learned about in high school. One of its actions is to “numb” your pain in order to allow you to continue to fight or flee in an emergency. So when you are in the ER you usually still are not feeling all the pain from your accident. Another reason herniated and bulging discs are missed in the ER is because they are soft-tissue and do not appear on X-Rays. You normally need an MRI or CT scan to see the disc. Unfortunately most health insurance companies will not authorize this test until after you have gone through physical therapy for 4-6 weeks.

What Is A Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs occur when the harder outer layer of a spinal disc ruptures, causing the softer gel-like substance inside to leak through. Healthy spinal discs act as shock absorbers, preventing individual vertebrae from rubbing or grinding together and causing pain. When a disc bulges or ruptures (a herniated disc), that cushion is diminished or gone and can cause sharp pain, tingling, or numbness to the back or even the limbs. These symptoms are often caused by pinched nerves where the disc is unable to provide a cushion. Even when there are no pinched nerves, the muscles in the area can spasm and cause severe pain.

Cervical | Neck Disc Herniations

Cervical disc herniations occur in your neck, usually between the 6th and 7th vertebrae. They are the most common type of hernation along with lower back (lumbar) hernations. You will experience muscle spasms in your neck, shoulders and shoulder blades. If you have pinched a nerve, you will have pain or tingling coming down your shoulders into your arms.

Lumbar| Lower Back Herniations

Lumbar disc hernations are in the lower back and can effect your lower back, buttocks, thighs, and can even radiate down your legs and into your feet or toes.

What You Are Up Against

  • Insurance companies ALWAYS argue a delay in treatment for your back injuries either means you were hurt by something else or you are faking it because you did not mention it right away.
  • Almost everyone as they age develops disc degeneration. Insurance companies will argue you were not hurt in the accident but that your pain was pre-existing because of these aging discs.
  • The insurance industry have used massive media campaigns to convince the public (i.e. jury pool) that neck injuries in particular, like whiplash, aren’t real injuries and are only “soft-tissue” injuries that can get better on their own with heat and ice packs.

What Your Attorney Should Be Doing

As you are probably already finding out in your Internet research, there are different types of personal injury attorneys. You need to hire an attorney who litigates these cases and not just settles them for quick money. Your attorney must know about all the scientific studies that can prove your injuries are related to your accident. Your attorney must have the time and resources to go after this information and cross-examine the insurance company’s experts on it. Your attorney must also be able to teach a jury about trauma and how your condition changed substantially after the accident and despite your pre-existing conditions. Finally, good attorneys begin to prepare for trial from day one, including picking their jury instructions. There are instructions judges will use to tell a jury you are not to be punished for a prior injury or condition.

Aggressive Atlanta Back Injury Attorneys

The average value (settlements & verdicts) for a neck disc injury requiring surgery in Georgia is
$125,000. The average for lower back surgery is
$115,000. (Georgia Trial Reporter)


Contact an Alpharetta back injury attorney immediately for aggressive, proven legal representation.