Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a viewer’s question, ” What is a disc herniation?”
Hi, I’m Ben Schwartz,
I’m an attorney and we’re going to answer a question today from Jake in Columbia, Maryland. Jake wrote in he said, “I was rear-ended in a car accident and I’ve got a back injury. The doctors and my lawyer are telling me I have a disc herniation but no one can seem to explain to me what that means.” So, it’s a great question, Jake thanks so much for contacting us. Thanks for your email, here’s the video for you. We are going to talk about, what is a disc herniation? I’m not a doctor, I’m an attorney. I wish I were a doctor; I think it would be very interesting to be a doctor but I’m not. But I’m going to do my best to explain this as simply as I can.
In your spine, whether it’s your neck or your upper back, or your lower back, your spine is made up of bones and discs. So, if you look at this, this is my buddy “Skinny” the skeleton that I use in trials. When we go to jury trial and I need to have someone explain something to the jury sometimes we take skinny. Basically, if you look at the human spine there’s bone and bone and bone and the thing that separates the bones are the discs. The disc is a fibrous material and it basically works as a shock absorber to dampen the shock from one bone to the next. Because what you don’t want is you don’t want one bone rubbing on the next bone or touching the next bone that would be painful. The problem with discs is that this is another model of a section of the spine here’s the vertebrae or the bones and there’s the disc. The problem with discs is that sometimes some of the discs can push out the back. You get a bulging disc or a herniated disc.
Sometimes if you have disc material pushing out the back of the disc space, the space between the bones, what can happen is it can start pushing on nerves because the nerves come out of the spine towards the back of the bony processes that come out through what’s called the neural foramen. So, if you have a disc bulge or a disc herniation it can push on nerves; it can push into the fecal sac which is the SAC surrounding the central spinal cord. If you look at this model, on the medical model, there is the central spinal cord going down that canal. If the disc material is pushing on a nerve or pushing on the cord or the fecal sac then you can end up having nerve pain. You can end up having all kinds of symptoms you know bowel, bladder loss of control, your legs can stop working. If it’s cervical, if it’s a neck disc, it can cause problems down your arms as well. So, it can be very serious, or it could not be that serious.
Sometimes disc injuries can exist if you take a perfectly healthy individual and put them in an MRI machine, take an MRI, you may find that there are disc bulges or disk herniation and they are not symptomatic. The problem is when they are pushing on nerves or they are pushing on the cord or on the fecal sac they can become symptomatic and the problems that you can have will be pain localized in that area where that bulge of that herniation is. It can be a burning pain or a searing pain. You can have shooting pain or symptoms because the nerves come out of the spine and the nerves go down the arms, the nerves go down the legs. You can have problems going down your arms or going down your legs.
It’s not uncommon in car accident cases or slip and fall cases where someone has a herniated disc in their neck or a herniated disc in their back. It’s not uncommon at all for them to come into an attorney’s office and say, you know my hands going numb. I’m having numbness and these fingers or in the palm of the hand. That lets us know the there is a potential disk injury in their neck. This is not something to play around with. I would say that if you have had a car accident or you have had a slip and fall or some other type of incident where you have sustained trauma to the neck or back and you suspect that you have maybe had a disk injury, I would say you need to go to a neck or back specialist, a doctor who is a specialist in treating these types of injuries. Perhaps let that doctor send you for an MRI to diagnose the problem and give you appropriate treatment. You can certainly try and live with it on your own but the sooner you get it diagnosed and the sooner you begin treatment the sooner you will start feeling better.
So, I hope that answers the question. I hope that that explains what a disc herniation is or what a disc bulge is. If you have questions for me, you can ask me questions about medicine, like I said I’m a lawyer. I have a relatively decent knowledge of medical terms and terminology and how things work with respect to anatomy but I’m not a doctor. You can ask me anyways if it’s something I can answer, I will answer it in a video for you. Or if you have a question about the law or the legal system that you think would make for an interesting video send me an email.
Thanks for watching!