Disc Herniation FAQ

When it comes to disc herniation injuries, you need the right information AND the right representation.

If your herniated disc is not the result of a traumatic event, we may not be able to help you, but if you suffered a disc herniation following a car accident or some other kind of motor vehicle accident, you have come to the right place. At the Law Offices of Matthew D. Dubin our clients love us because we really understand what they are going through. We listen to their concerns and we always return their calls promptly. We provide compassionate counsel throughout the claims and litigation process and we provide aggressive representation against the insurance companies, which are determined to pay you less than your claim is worth.

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding disc herniations and legal claims resulting from these serious and often permanent injuries. At the bottom of the page, you can request a free consultation to discuss your possible claim, as well as a free informational brochure:

What is a herniated disc?

The bones that form the spine in your neck and back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it can bulge or even break open. This is called a herniated disc. It can also be called a slipped or ruptured disc. When a herniated disc bulges out from between the vertebrae, the spinal nerves and spinal cord can become pinched or compressed.

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What is the cause of a herniated disc?

While a herniated disc could be caused by wear and tear as you age and the disc dries out, the most common cause of disc herniation is traumatic injury to the spine. Trauma can cause tears in the outer layer of the disc allowing the gel inside the disc to be pushed out. This can cause the disc to bulge, break open, or even break into pieces.

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What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

When a herniated disc irritates the adjacent nerve, it can interfere with the pathway by which signals are sent from your brain to your extremities. A herniated disc can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is known as sciatica. Occasionally a herniated disc can result in bowel or bladder problems. These symptoms could be a sign of a serious medical emergency and you should see your doctor immediately if you have problems urinating, having bowel movements or if you have numbness around your genitals.

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How is a herniated disc diagnosed?

A physician will often make a diagnosis of herniated disc based on a physical examination, but the most common basis for this diagnosis is an MRI or other imaging which shows the condition of the disc and its proximity to the affected nerve.

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How is a herniated disc treated?

Physicians most commonly prefer to treat herniated discs conservatively at first and progress to more aggressive interventions only if the symptoms do not improve. Often a doctor will order rest and avoidance of aggravating activities. Sometimes this is all it will take for the symptoms to resolve, but often the symptoms persist even with rest. Doctors also usually prescribe the use of heat and cold to relax the muscles in the back and relieve muscle spasms. If the symptoms don't improve, a doctor may order physical therapy and pain medications.

If none of these treatments provide relief, a physician can administer epidural steroid injections. These are injections of cortisone directly into the area of nerve compression. These treatments often reduce inflammation and relieve the compression of the nerve. Sometimes these treatments will permanently resolve the symptoms.

If there is significant neurological deficit, or if the symptoms persist after all of the above treatments have been exhausted, surgery may be the only remaining option. Surgery can remove the entire disc or just the portion that is bulging in order to relieve the compression of the affected nerve.

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Can I make a claim for my herniated disc injury?

Yes. If the injury was caused by a collision that was someone else's fault, you should be able to make a full recovery for your medical bills, lost earnings, physical pain, emotional distress as well as the impact on the quality of your life.

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How long do I have to file a lawsuit in a herniated disc case?

All cases in Washington are subject to a statute of limitations, which requires that a lawsuit be filed within a certain time following the accident. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this period could vary. It is important that you consult with an attorney knowledgeable in herniated disc cases as soon as possible following the accident.

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Should I hire an attorney in my herniated disc case?

It is essential that you consult with a qualified attorney before speaking to the other driver's insurance company. A herniated disc can be a complicated injury and insurance companies will often try to claim that your injury was pre-existing and was not caused by the accident. Other times they will question the reasonableness of the treatment you received. Insurance companies have doctors available to them who commonly testify that your claims are exaggerated and that your treatment was excessive and unreasonable. An attorney with experience handling herniated disc cases can prepare your case to overcome these objections by the insurance company to get you the best possible result.

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