The Differences Between Disc Injuries After a Car Accident
Car accidents are a major cause of neck and back pain. Most of us know of someone who has suffered a bulging disc or a protruding disc or a disc herniation because of a car accident. What is the difference between these disc injuries?
The spine is a column of small bones called vertebrae which are separated into three sections: cervical (the neck area); thoracic (the mid back/rib area); and the lumbar (lower back). In between the vertebra is small cushions of cartilage known as intervertebral disks. It is these disks which can be injured in a car accident.
If your doctor diagnoses you with a bulging disc after a car accident, that typically means the gel has been pushed out slightly from the disk and is evenly distributed around the circumference.
A protruding disc is more serious than a bulging disc in that the gel is pushed out and is asymmetrical in different places. This could cause pinching or irritation of the nerve roots that exit the vertebrae at that level.
A herniated disk occurs with the disc material ruptures to the point that the gel within the disk (the nucleus pulposus) pushes outward. This too can cause pain and numbness due to the irritation of the nerves.
A disc extrusion is the worst type of disc injury in that the gel balloons extensively into the area outside the vertebrae or breaks off from the disc and often results in considerable back pain and limitation.
If you have are experiencing a disc problem, it is important that you consult with a doctor who is trained in this area. Failing to do so could result in complicated surgery and may result in paralysis.
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