Herniated Disc Injury Common in Car Accidents

By Prev Info - February 20, 2022


In Atlanta, Georgia we seem to love to hate to drive. Many of us commute horribly long distances to and from work and often can be overheard whining about traffic conditions. And we whine for good reasons - one of which is that it is incredibly dangerous to be on Atlanta highways. There are deadly car accidents every day.

In my line of work I see all kinds of injuries involving all sorts of car accidents. It's downright macabre. One injury I see far too much of is disc injury and although herniated or ruptured disc injury (pinched nerve, slipped disc, bulging disc are other terms for the same or closely related injury) is common in car accident cases.


Let's begin with something everyone is familiar with - the spine. The spine is a column of bones that runs from the base of your skull to the place you sit. This column is made up of 24 separate bones called vertebrae. The spine surrounds and protects the spinal cord. Doctors label different parts of the spine according to levels. There is the cervical spine (neck level), the thoracic spine (upper and mid back levels), the lumbar spine (lower back level), and the coccyx (the tailbone).

Nerve roots (also called spinal nerves) branch off of the spinal cord and run to other parts of the body. Since the spinal cord is surrounded by the bones that make up the spine these nerve roots must exit the spine through a hole (called foramen) in the bones.

Since the spine houses some of the most important (and sensitive) structures in the body, namely the spinal cord and spinal nerves, an injury to this part of your body can be devastating. 


Let's start by talking about what the discs actually are. The full name is intervertebral discs. The discs are located between each of the 24 bones that make up the spine (each individual bone is called a vertebra). The discs are made of an outer protective layer (that could be compared to the consistency of a radial tire) surrounding a hydrated gel-like center and are flexible and compressible. The discs serve as a kind of cushion or shock absorbing system for the spine.

When a car accident or other trauma herniates a disc the gel inside the disc gets forced out of the outer protective layer. This can cause the disc to move, crack, or break into pieces. When a disc herniates it can begin to push on one of the nerve roots and cause pain and weakness in the area of the body the nerve controls. This is called nerve root compression or impingement.

Nerve root compression can lead to all kinds of problems, including sciatica and radiculopathy, but the main thing you will notice is PAIN! Sometimes the pain is located near the point of injury (the disc) but often it is located elsewhere in the body, even in your arms or legs, fingers or toes.

There is so much more that could be said and many variations on this theme. If you are in the Atlanta metropolitan area or anywhere in Georgia and have questions about this injury or legal issues connected to disc injury, call personal injury lawyer.



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