By: Jeremy Schatz, Managing Attorney, Virtus Law Group, Birmingham Alabama.
The neck is composed of several different structures such as muscles, bones, and ligaments. Located in between the vertebrae of the spine are what’s called the intervertebral disc. Think of it as a sandwich, the bread is the vertebrae and the stuff in the middle is the disc.
The purpose of the disc is to allow movement of the spine and as a shock absorber. Unfortunately, following a car accident, the often-violent movement of the spine can cause the disc to balloon out. (The middle starts falling out of the sandwich).
When this happens, some common symptoms may occur:
- Pain where the disc is bulging.
- Radiating Pain
- Numbness or tingling-the disc stimulates the nerve near your spine.
- Muscle Weakness-due to spinal nerve compression, you may find that your muscles are not as strong as they were before the car accident.
- Muscle Spasms
- Headaches- this symptom is basically your brain is tricked into thinking it is experiencing a headache when it feels pain caused by your spinal nerve.
Often, these symptoms may not be felt until some time following the car accident, and the severity depends on how much pressure is being put on the nerve. The pain may be dull and difficult to pinpoint, too sharp and localized. The key is getting a proper diagnosis from an orthopedic or neurological doctor and beginning treatment as soon as possible. The diagnosis generally begins with a physical examination that will look for things such as flexibility and range of motion and if necessary an MRI (X-ray generally will not show a bulging disc).
If the building disc is ignored for an extended period, it may lead to long-term issues such as spinal stenosis which is a general term for the narrowing or constriction of the spinal column.