After a car accident or any other type of personal injury you may notice pain in your neck or back. Wisely, you decide to go see a doctor and he tries to resolve your pain conservatively (without surgery) by recommending anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and home stretching programs. However, your pain doesn’t go away and eventually the doctor orders an MRI. When your results come back, the doctor tells you that you have a “bulging disc” somewhere along your spine.
Unfortunately, doctors can fail to understand that this is the first time you’ve ever heard the term “bulging disc”. Just as with every other profession, a doctor probably hears the term “bulging disc”, just as often as a lawyer hears the term “lawsuit”. For clients and patients though, these terms are a foreign language and can be scary to hear. A doctor may tell you it’s not serious, but you want to know more. Hopefully the below will help you understand what a bulging disk is and what it means for your car accident case.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a bulging disc can be described as follows:
“Disks act as cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. They’re composed of an outer layer of tough cartilage that surrounds softer cartilage in the center. It may help to think of them as miniature jelly doughnuts, exactly the right size to fit between your vertebrae.
Disks show signs of wear and tear with age. Over time, disks dehydrate and their cartilage stiffens. These changes can cause the outer layer of the disk to bulge out fairly evenly all the way around its circumference — so it looks a little like a hamburger that’s too big for its bun.
A bulging disk doesn’t always affect the entire perimeter of a disk, but at least a quarter if not half of the disk’s circumference is usually affected. Only the outer layer of tough cartilage is involved.”
Basically, a bulging disc occurs when the disc between your vertebrae bulges out of its normal location. A disc can bulge from trauma associated with a fall or a car accident, and it can also happen normally with time. During a doctor’s visit, you may learn that you had a bulging disc before a car accident, but were never in pain until the traumatic shock of the accident triggered something within your body. In these situations, people are often told that there is underlying degenerative disc disease that has contributed to the bulging disc. Again, that’s a scary word. We’ll discuss this condition more in a future blog.
Even if you are told that you had a bulging disc that existed before a fall or an accident, and even if the doctor claims it was caused by degenerative disc disease, you may still be entitled to compensation under Missouri law because you were never in pain before the accident or the fall. Do not let a doctor, an adjustor, or anyone else trick you into thinking that you do not deserve compensation in these situations. Call an attorney and see what your options are.