The human spine is quite resilient, but significant traumas can limit the range of motion and leave you suffering. Most people are aware that a back injury can make it tough to function, but the specifics can be a bit more difficult to understand. Even some of the best orthopedic surgeons have trouble explaining the details of a complex back injury. To be clear, there are several key injuries that are most common.

Experienced southern Illinois injury lawyers routinely work closely with our clients to help them get the care they need for disc injuries, while helping to make sure they can afford the treatments they need.

Disc Injuries

When doctors discuss your “disc injuries,” they are talking about the soft and pliable sections between the vertebrae. In the diagram, the discs would be illustrated in blue. A disc injury can come in several forms, but most of the terminology used is actually a bit duplicative. When the spine flexes back and forth rapidly, as with a car accident, or when extreme strain is placed on the inter-vertebral spaces, such as with lifting injuries, these soft “shock absorbing” elements can be injured. The most common type of injury happens when the rubber-like outer section ruptures or “slips” in a way that allows the gel-like material inside (nucleus pulposus) to leak out. Sometimes called a “slipped disc,” “herniated disc” or “disc bulge,” the effect is that there will be a loss of space between the bony structures, leading to nerve pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Many Americans live with degenerative disc disease (DDD). Some studies have suggested that as many as 40% of people over 40 have DDD and as many as 80% of those over the age of 80.

Insurance companies are good about trying to blame disc injuries on degenerative changes. The key to understanding the difference is knowing the science. DDD involves a gradual narrowing of the space between discs, while a bulging or “herniated” disc involves a traumatic rupturing of the disc. This can lead to nerves being impinged (“pinched”). Short of surgery, there are few permanent solutions to the problem. However, neurologists and orthopedic pain specialists offer a host of medical options.

Treatment Options

Among the many types of medical treatments available for disc injuries, healthcare providers generally recommend starting small and trying less aggressive treatments first. The typical progression of care is as follows:

Chiropractic – For immediate relief, many people find great satisfaction with chiropractic and passive care. This usually involves hot and cold packs, massage, physical therapy, spinal manipulation, and other non-surgical options. This can help to reduce inflammation and ease muscle strain associated with the injury.

Injection Therapy – There are a number of different types of injections that can provide significant relief, depending on the specific nature of your back injury. Take a look at some of the brief video explanations below:

Each of these injections has pros and cons, but ultimately only about 50% of patients report successful pain reduction after injections. Keep in mind that some diagnostic imaging actually requires injections as well. For instance, for an MRI with contrast, a dye will be injected near the area to be imaged, and this will aid the radiologist or specialist with visualizing the area and better identifying the injury.

Surgery – In extreme cases, a fusion or disc replacement surgery may be warranted. These procedures can cost upwards of $200,000 or more, and many specialists will not accept Medicaid or Medicare for these complex procedures.

Making the Insurance Company Pay for the Cost of Your Procedures

In some situations, you may be able to seek compensation from the insurance company. If you were injured at work, your employer’s insurance carrier should pay for your care, as well as cover your lost income. If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision, the at-fault driver who caused the injury should be held responsible. Their insurance company may or may not have enough coverage available to pay for the significant cost of ongoing care, so it’s always a good idea to carry additional under-insured motorist coverage.

Fortunately, even when there is insufficient coverage, there are often ways to get you the treatment you deserve, while preserving your right to compensation. The best way to find out more about your options is to speak with one of the experienced Illinois injury lawyers of Jerome, Lindsay & Salmi, LLP.  We serve clients throughout eastern Missouri and all of downstate and southern Illinois. Give us a call or visit us online today.

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One part combat veteran, one part former firefighter/EMT and truck driver, and 100% devoted to helping clients achieve the results they desire.



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