Back injuries, and more specifically slipped disc injuries, go hand and hand with auto and motorcycle accidents. I’ve represented a great many clients over the years that have suffered these injuries.
MEDICAL ASPECTS OF THE “SLIPPED DISC”
Almost everyone has become familiar with the expression “slipped disc.”Actually the term is a misnomer; the disc does not slip but ruptures or herniates. Among the many terms which have been used are ”protruded intervertebral disc,” “posterior protrosions of the intervertebral disc,” “herniation of the nucleus pulposus,” “rupture of the intervertebral disc,” “rupture of the nucleus pulposus ,” ”dislocation of the intervertebral disc,” “disc protrusion,””prolapsed disc,” “enchondrosis of the intervertebral cartilage,” “displaced intervertebral cartilage,” ”herniated intervertebral disc,” ”inter vertebral disc injury,””intervertebral disc syndrome,” and “extru sion of intervertebral disc.”
There are also terms referring to the spinal region such as “cervical disc syndrome,” and “lumbar disc syndrome.” All of these refer to a posterior displacement into the spinal canal of a portion of one or more intervertebral discs, with pressure on one or more spinal nerve roots or even on the spinal cord itself.
The spine is made up of hard, bony structures: the vertebrae. Incombination as the spine, or vertebral column, the vertebrae serve to support the trunk on the pelvis. Nature has placed be tween adjacent vertebrae a soft, spongy cushion called a disc. The resilience or rubber-like action of these intervertebral discs allows the spine to move freely and suddenly and gives it “spring.” The discs serve as shock absorbers to pressure and jarring.
In the center of the disc is the nucleus pulposus which, like the little ball inside of a golf ball, is the main factor in providing resilience. This semi-elastic nucleus is the residue of the embryonic notochord .
The surface or outside of the disc is composed of strong, fibrous elastic bundles of connective tissue embedded in a matrix of cartilage. This annulus fibrosus serves to confine the inner soft or spongy nucleus. The inner layers merge with the nucleus while the denser outer layers separate it from the hyaline cartilage plates on the vertebrae above and below.
Microscopic examination reveals the disc to be made up of interlacing strands of fine fibrous tissue. In childhood this material has a high fluid protein content and is quite elastic. With normal aging the fluid content and elasticity decrease. In the majority of individuals, even though the disc has less elasticity, it still functions adequately and there are little or no symptoms.
Normal Reaction to Stress
The intervertebral disc is normally flush with the bodies of the adjacent vertebrae kept in place by the strong vertebral ligaments. During spine flexion or stress as in carrying heavy weights or jumping even a few inches, the disc tends to bulge into the spinal canal. When the tissues are healthy, after the force producing the stress has ceased to operate, the disc returns to its normal position. But in a violent motorcycle or auto accident, the disc may be permanently damaged and cause excruciating pain.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident due to the negligence of another, please call me at 916-694-0002 for free, friendly advice. If you are outside the Elk Grove/Sacramento area, you can call us at (800) 404-5400.
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