Spine and Spinal Cord Injury
The Spine is made up of bones called vertebrae and tissue that separates them called discs. The bones of the spine are comprised of seven neck (cervical) vertebrae, twelve mid back (thoracic) vertebrae and five lower back (lumbar) vertebrae.
The vertebrae of the spine may be broken (fractured) by direct blows or by compression-type force that is suffered by the spine often when the person falls and lands on his tailbone (coccyx). The tailbone itself can also be fractured in these types of injuries and is known to be a very painful injury that makes sitting very uncomfortable.
The discs between the vertebrae can also suffer injury. The discs themselves are structurally similar to a jelly doughnut. They have a rubbery outside shell with a soft gel-like inside (nucleus pulposus). Disc injuries can be in the forms of a disc herniation, a disc protrusion, a disc bulge or a disc rupture. Disc protrusions and bulges refer to a situation where the disc itself has developed a deformity such that it sticks out from the normal alignment of the spine. The terms are often used interchangeably, but generally a bulge is a small deformity and a protrusion is a larger one. If the center of the disc forces its way out into a bubble sticking out from the shell of the disc, this is called a herniation. While the forces of gravity and aging upon the spine can be a natural cause of discs slowly developing bulges or protrusions, often the forces involved in automobile collisions result in disc bulges, protrusions and herniations. If the nucleus pulposus pushes so far out that the outer shell tears, this is called a ruptured disc. The part of the nucleus pulposus that extends out of the disc is known as an extrusion.
Disc injuries can be very painful and debilitating. The disc itself will often cause back or neck pain depending upon its location. When the disc presses against a nerve, it can cause symptoms down the arm or leg to which the nerve extends such as numbness, tingling, burning pain or even an electrical sensation. Surgery may be necessary to relieve the nerve pain symptoms. A discectomy is a surgery done to remove pieces of the disc. Laminectomy is generally a procedure where pieces of bone are removed and the spinal canal is widened to allow the nerves to pass the injured areas without irritating contact. Lastly, if multiple discs are affected, sometimes a fusion is required where the discs are replaced with bone and held together with plates and screws.
Spinal injuries can be very painful and have disabling effects if not properly treated. If you have sustained a spinal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should speak with a spinal injury attorney to discuss your options. We would love to discuss your options in a free, no-obligation consultation.
Spinal Cord Injury
The spinal cord is a collection of 31 nerves that travel from the base of the brain all the way down the back by way of the spinal canal. The spinal canal runs through the vertebrae in the neck (cervical spine), mid back (thoracic spine) and low back (lumbar spine). Individual nerves branch off from the spinal cord and run down both of your arms and legs as well as through the chest and abdomen areas. These nerves control everything from muscle movement to organ operation.
Unlike other parts of the human body, the spinal cord does not have the ability to heal itself when it sustains an injury. Spinal cord injury is commonly a result of major trauma from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and physical assaults. Approximately 10,000 new cases of spinal cord injury are reported every year.
Spinal cord injuries may be a complete spinal cord injury—where there is complete loss of feeling and function below the area of injury (complete paralysis)—or incomplete spinal cord injury—where there is only a partial loss of feeing and function below the area of injury (partial paralysis). A complete spinal cord injury sustained in the neck area results in quadriplegia and a complete spinal cord injury sustained in the back area results in paraplegia.
Spinal cord injury is a permanent injury that will have life-altering consequences. If you suffer a spinal cord injury due to another’s negligence, you need a spinal cord injury lawyer who will help you consider and plan for all of the future consequences including medical needs, educational needs, long-term care needs and financial support. Call Simmons and Fletcher and let us help you today.