Neck injuries are a common consequence of an accident. Depending on the seriousness of the injury, a neck injury could cause long-term impairments, including chronic pain, stiffness, reduced motion, and other debilitating conditions. Victims who develop herniated discs because of an accident can face a lengthy recovery and incur substantial damages because of the injury.
What Are the C4, C5, and C6 Vertebrae?
The spinal column runs down the back from the skull to the tailbone. It is made up of bones, muscles, and tendons.
The bones in the spine are known as vertebrae. Each of the seven bones in the neck is numbered, beginning at the top of the neck (C1) to the bottom of the neck (C7).
Between the bones are sac-like cushions or intervertebral discs. These discs are identified by their location. Therefore, the disc between the four and fifth bones in the neck would be the C4/C5 disc.
The discs are made up of a jelly-like inner substance that provides a “cushion” between the bones when you move. The fiber-like substance that surrounds the inner portion of the disc keeps the jelly-like substance contained during movement or when force is placed on the spinal column.
What Causes Herniated Discs?
The jelly-like inner section of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus. When the nucleus seeps through the disc’s fiber-like outer section (annulus fibrosus), the condition is referred to as a herniated disc. Because the nucleus “ruptures” through the outer section, the condition may also be referred to as a ruptured disc.
C4/C5 and C5/C6 are common locations for herniated discs in the cervical spine. The causes of herniated discs at these locations vary. In most cases, the nucleus enters the spinal column through small tears in the disc’s outer layer.
Some medical conditions can cause herniated discs. Also, accidents and everyday situations can result in a herniated disc.
Examples of causes of herniated cervical discs include, but are not limited to:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Automobile accidents
- Picking up heavy objects
- Work-related injuries
- Assaults or acts of violence
- Construction accidents
- Recreational and sports activities
- Wear and tear from aging
- Defective product injuries
- Blunt force trauma
A herniated disc can be debilitating. The person may suffer intense pain, which can limit their ability to work and perform daily activities.
How Do I Know if I Have a Herniated Disc?
Herniated discs can cause severe pain, which tends to increase when the person lifts options or turns their head. At times, the pain caused by a herniated disc can be excruciating. Some individuals may also experience pain radiating down through their extremities, as well as weakness, tingling, or numbness in their arms, hands, or legs.
The symptoms may also help determine which of the discs have ruptured. For example, people with a C4/C5 herniated disc do not report tingling and numbness as much as people with C5/C6 herniated discs.
A herniated disc at C4/C5 is more likely to cause weakness and pain in the shoulders and deltoid muscles. However, a herniated disc at C5/C6 is more likely to cause pain and weakness in the biceps, forearms, and hands. C5/C6 herniated discs may cause a more reduced motion than herniated discs at C4/C5.
How Do Doctors Treat Herniated Cervical Discs?
The treatments for herniated discs vary. For example, some people obtain relief by using pain medications and muscle relaxers. After a period of rest, the pain and other symptoms disappear.
However, other individuals might require more aggressive treatment, such as physical therapy, NSAIDs, epidural steroid injections, or nerve root injections. If the symptoms do not disappear, or the person begins to experience problems with walking, standing, bladder control, or bowel control, the doctor might suggest cervical surgery.
Who is Responsible for Damages Caused by Herniated Discs?
The damages caused by a herniated disc vary depending on the seriousness of the injury. However, many victims incur medical bills and other expenses as they seek treatment for the injury. They may also lose income as they are out of work for medical treatment and recovery from their injury.
However, in addition to financial damages, herniated discs can cause pain and suffering damages. Accident victims may endure physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering. They may sustain long-term impairments that impact their daily lives.
A personal injury lawyer can review the circumstances that led to your injury to determine who is liable for your damages. In general, the party who caused the accident or incident that resulted in the injury can be held liable. However, you must have evidence to prove that the party’s actions or omissions directly led to your injury before you can recover compensation for damages.