Herniated Discs/Laminectomy and Fusion Lawyer
A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. The disc is a spongy shock absorber between each vertebra of the spine, and a hernia occurs when the outer layer of a disc tears and fluid inside leaks through the tear, putting pressure on spinal nerves.
Herniated Discs: Common Injury in Accidents
This injury is commonly seen in people who have been injured in a car crash or in a slip-and-fall accident, and elderly populations may be at heightened risk for a herniated disc, as the spinal discs become more brittle with age.
Diagnosis and treatment for a herniated disc can be a long and costly process. If you’ve suffered a herniated disc due to someone else’s negligence, you maybe entitled to compensation that can cover your medical costs and lost wages.
When doctors suspect a patient is suffering from a herniated disc, they usually order a diagnostic test, such as a magnetic resonance imaging scan. With an average cost of $2,600, an MRI may cause financial stress for injury victims, especially those who have no insurance or who have high-deductible plans.
Depending on the severity of a spinal injury, multiple diagnostic tests may be required to determine the best course of treatment, creating a significant financial burden for patients before treatment even begins.
Some herniated discs will heal on their own, so doctors usually follow a conservative treatment plan initially. Rest, light physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications may be successful at rehabilitating a herniated disc. If pain continues, or if the hernia is putting pressure on the sciatic nerve and causing leg pain and numbness, surgery may be required.
Spinal surgery is associated with some serious risks – such as injury to healthy nerves and surgical error. Wrong-level surgery, in which surgeons operate on the wrong disc or vertebra, is a common occurrence. Of 400 neurosurgeons surveyed in 2008, 50 percent said they had performed a wrong-level surgery at least once during their career.
Types of Surgery
Surgical procedures for treating herniated discs include:
- Laminectomy – The removal of the back surface of a vertebra (the lamina), which enlarges the spinal canal to alleviate pressure on spinal nerves
- Laminotomy – Partial removal of the lamina
- Discectomy – The removal of the damaged portion of a disc, generally recommended only when patients have significant nerve-related weakness or pain that spreads to the legs, arms, buttocks, or chest
- Spinal fusion – A surgeon may fuse two vertebrae to provide stability after removing a disc
Complications of any spinal surgery may include infection, worsening of pain, and nerve damage. Spinal surgery also causes significant bleeding, and as the body attempts to stop the loss of blood, dangerous clots may form in the veins of the leg. Doctors may prescribe blood thinners to post-surgery patients to prevent the formation of clots.
Some complications are specific to spinal fusion surgeries – metal hardware connected to the vertebrae may detach, necessitating additional surgery, and the bone graft may fail, causing vertebrae to shift out of position.
Post-operative recovery could require up to three days in the hospital, with a return to normal activity in a few weeks. When a patient has both a laminectomy and spinal fusion, the surgeon may recommend returning to normal activities no sooner than six months after surgery. Physical therapy may be part of the recovery process, both to build strength in the lower back and to prevent muscle loss in the legs from inactivity.
Unfortunately, even when surgery is successful at alleviating pain, many patients find the pain returns with the natural weakening of the spine that occurs with age.
Help for the Injured
Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability and can significantly affect one’s quality of life. Although treatment can alleviate the pain associated with a herniated disc, people without health insurance or with high deductibles may forgo treatment, because of the cost.
No one should have to live with the pain of a herniated disc when treatment is available. If you’ve suffered a herniated disc in an accident and someone else was at fault for that accident, you may be entitled to a settlement that can cover your medical care – both immediate expenses and long-term costs, including physical therapy.
The Evans Law Firm has helped many Texas personal injury victims get the compensation they need to put their lives back on track. Call us today at 1-855-414-1012 or fill out our online form to request your free consultation.