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The spine is made up of twenty-six small bones. These bones are called vertebrae. The vertebrae are cushioned by small, spongy discs. These discs act as shock absorbers for the spine. They keep the spine flexible and allow for spinal movement. When these discs are injured, the surrounding nerves are affected, which can cause mild to severe pain.
There is no agreed upon terminology for spinal disc pathology. Different doctors often use different terms. This makes it very difficult for patients who see more than one doctor to understand if there is a consensus on their diagnosis.
Herniated discs, ruptured discs, bulging discs, slipped discs, collapsed disc, disc prolapse, and disc protrusion are all essentially different words for the same injury.
The most important part of the diagnosis is where the pain is originating from. This affects the cause as well as the treatment. The cause of the pain can be separated into two broad categories: pinched nerve and disc pain.
Pinched nerve: This type of pain is caused by a herniated disc. A disc is herniated when the hard, outer casing is cracked or broken. This allows the gelatinous insides to bulge out from between the vertebrae. This may then press against the spinal nerves or spinal cord. This can cause severe pain. This pain is called radicular pain.
Disc pain: This type of pain is generally caused by degenerative disc disease. This is when the pain originates from the disc space itself. This pain is called axial pain.
The Areas of the Spine
The spine is divided up into four areas:
- Sacroiliac or tail bone: This can be injured in a fall. A fractured tail bone is very painful.
- Lumbar spine: The lumbar spine is the lower spine. This is where most herniated discs are located.
- Cervical spine: The cervical spine is the part of the spine that is located in the neck. This is the second-most common place for herniated discs.
- Thoracic spine: The thoracic spine is the spine located in the upper back, between the cervical and lumbar spine. Only rarely are herniated discs located here because they are attached to the rib cage and have more support than either the neck or lower back.
Symptoms of herniated lumbar disc:
- Radiating pain – some experience shooting pain all the way down the leg, if a lumbar disc is herniated, or down the arm, if a cervical disc is herniated.
- Paresthesia – abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness, or pins and needles. This can be a sign that a nerve is being pinched.
- Muscle weakness – signals from the brain to the muscles can be interrupted by a pinched nerve.
Rest and relaxation are often the best remedies for spinal problems. A doctor may also recommend exercises to stretch and strengthen the neck or back. The pain is often treated as a separate symptom through aspirin and other pain medicines. In extreme cases, surgery may be considered the best treatment. This is only considered a good option if it is possible to definitively diagnosis the type and location of the spinal injury.
- Car accidents
- Falls that effect the spine
- Sudden violent twisting
- Lifting heavy objects
- Old injuries to the spine or neck.
Choosing The Right Firm
At GorenLaw, we understand that neck and back injuries can affect your everyday life. The excruciating pain of a spinal injury can be extremely limiting to your daily activities. If you are suffering from a ruptured disc, a pinched nerve, or any other disc problem, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact the Cleveland back and neck injury attorneys at GorenLaw for a free assessment of your case. We work on a contingency fee basis – we aren’t paid unless you receive compensation. For forty years, winning has kept us in business. We have been recognized with Martindale-Hubbell’s top “AV rating” for quality and service, have been designated one of Law & Politics “Super Lawyers” and have been listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in American Law. We are licensed in Michigan and have worked with other attorneys in many other states in the United States. Let us help you.