Spinal Disc Injuries from Auto Accidents

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Doctor Holding X-Ray of SpineSpinal disc injuries from auto accidents are frightening. You may worry about whether you will be able to move your arms and legs again, walk, keep your job, and take care of yourself. You may wonder if you will ever be pain-free again. You might have to wait days or weeks to find out if you will have an independent life and what the future holds for you. Our Washington auto accident attorney explains further.

How Spinal Disc Injuries Can Happen in Washington Car Accidents

Your spinal discs are rubbery coin-shaped parts that cushion your vertebrae and spinal nerves. Because so many bones, nerves, soft tissue, and muscles are crammed into a small space, auto crashes often cause spinal injuries. Here are some of the more common ways that collisions can damage spinal discs:

Direct Trauma

Direct trauma to the neck or back can cause spinal fractures that pinch nerves and puncture discs. Even without a fracture, direct trauma can damage nerves and muscles, leading to sciatica and herniated or bulging discs.

Sudden Jerking

Whiplash of the body during the accident can whip the spinal column in ways it was not designed to move. The forces of a crash can compress the discs between shifting vertebrae, which can cause disc injury and can, over time, lead to degenerative disc disease.

How to Tell if You Might Have a Spinal Disc Injury After a Kirkland Crash

Some spinal disc injuries are apparent at the scene of the accident, but others develop herniated disc symptoms over time. Get medical attention right away if you have been in a wreck and experience:

  • Pain in your neck, back, shoulders, buttocks, arms, or legs
  • Numbness or tingling in any of the above areas
  • Weakness in your arms or legs, resulting in difficulty standing, walking, sitting, lifting, or holding objects
  • Balance and stability issues

Types of Compensation for a Spinal Disc Injury

When you sustain spinal disc trauma in a car accident, your recoverable damages can include:

  • Medical expenses: This includes costs from the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, surgery, physical therapy, and prescription drugs. Keep your receipts, insurance statements, and bills so we can use them as evidence.
  • Lost wages You can also receive compensation for the time you missed from work because of the wreck, surgery, treatments, hospitalization, therapy, and recuperation. We will get records from your employer to prove the amount of income you lost.
  • Pain and suffering:  These damages recognize the fact that you endured physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience because of the at-fault driver’s negligence.
  • Long-term damages: This relates to ongoing repercussions of the injury, such as chronic pain, paralysis, future medical treatments, loss of function, decreased income potential, long-term care, and loss of enjoyment of life.

What to Expect at the Doctor’s Office

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you to sit, stand, and move your arms and legs into specific positions. Your doctor might test your reflexes, strength, sensation, and range of motion. If your doctor suspects a spinal injury, they will send you for more testing or to a specialist.

Treatments for Spinal Disc Injuries

Your treatment will depend on the type and extent of your spinal injury. Standard treatments for spinal disc injuries include:

  • Rest for a few days or as your doctor directs
  • Non-prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicine, like Motrin or Aleve
  • Prescription drugs like muscle relaxers and pain pills
  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation
  • Physical therapy to restore strength, flexibility, and function
  • Surgery in cases in which conservative therapy does not work

How a Trauma-Related Spinal Disc Injury Can Impact Your Life

Depending on the type and severity of your injuries and how much your body healed, a spinal disc injury from an auto accident can change your life, both in the short-term and the long-term.


These impacts can include physical pain, mental distress, depression, and anxiety about what the future will hold. People with spinal disc injuries can also lose time from work while they undergo physical therapy, surgeries, injections, and recuperation.


These impacts of spinal disc injuries can involve ongoing medical treatments, chronic pain, and loss of enjoyment of life. You might not be able to work a full-time schedule, so it can be hard to support yourself and your family. Degenerative disc disease gets worse as you get older.

Some spinal injuries cause paralysis or mobility issues. With severe injuries or complications, you might need assistance with daily living activities like personal care and housekeeping in the home or at a long-term care facility.


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Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.