Being diagnosed with degenerative disc disease can be scary and worrisome, especially if it’s the first time you are hearing those words. Unfortunately, much like lawyers use confusing latin phrases, doctors can use terms like “degenerative disc disease” and fail to explain what it means because they hear the term on a daily basis. So, what does degenerative disc mean? And if you were involved in a car accident or any other type of personal injury, how does a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease affect your case? Let’s explore this below.
According to Cedars Sinai, degenerative disc disease is “not actually a disease”, but rather “a condition in which a damaged disc causes pain.”
Further, “once a disc is injured, it cannot repair itself, and a spiral of degeneration can set in with three stages that appear to occur over 20 to 30 years:
- Acute pain makes normal movement of the back difficult
- The bone where the injury occurred becomes relatively unstable. Over a long period of time, the patient will have back pain that comes and goes.
- The body restabilizes the injured segment of the back. The patient experiences fewer bouts of back pain.”
Basically, degenerative disc disease is when a disc (the thing between your vertebrae) gets injured at some point in your life, which results in the degeneration of that disc over the course of your life. So, that hard football tackle you made in high school? That could have injured one of your discs. Once your disc is injured, it slowly deteriorates (or degenerates) over time. Or, because your discs are primarily made up of water, the discs just start drying out as you age. As a result, when you’re older you feel the effects of the disc damage more as the disc continues to deteriorate.
Never fear, though, because degenerative disc disease is very common and it’s part of our most of the population’s aging process. In fact, according to Cedars Sinai “[b]y age 60, most people have some degree of disc degeneration.”
However, just because you have disc degeneration does not mean that you have pain. You can go through your whole life with some amount of disc degeneration and never notice anything. But, if you were involved in a traumatic car accident or other personal injury, you might finally start feeling that pain. You may also get diagnosed with a bulging disc or a herniated disc.
Once you’re diagnosed with either of those ailments, the doctor may tell you that your disc damage was due to this degenerative disc disease. But, do not let that stop you from seeing what your rights are. Insurance adjustors and insurance company employees like to tell people that degenerative disc disease is to blame for a person’s pain. The truth is, most of us have degenerative disc disease and never know it until something traumatic happens to trigger the pain. Once the traumatic event occurs, the discs can degenerative very quickly and lead to even worse conditions, like a bulging disc or a herniated disc.
You did not ask to be in a car accident or get injured through the negligent acts of another person. You may never have felt the effects of degenerative disc disease and did not even know you had it before the car accident. Do not let an insurance company employee try to convince you that the pain and injuries you have from the accident are your fault and are the fault of the degenerative disc disease. Call an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and to see what options you have.