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St. Louis “Work Comp Lawyer” Dicusses Herniated Disc Injuries

Jan. 6, 2009

Very few injuries that we commonly see can change a claimant’s life as dramatically as a “herniated disc”. Many similar terms are used almost interchangeably like “ruptured disc” , “disc protrusion” and “herniated nucleous pulposis”.Doctors often describe disc as being like a”jelly donut” between the vertebrae.When the disc material inside of the disc leaks out and touches on the”sciatic nerve”, severe pain often travels down the injured worker’s leg. Sometimes other structures are affected, like the “spinal cord” or the “spinal canal” .Disc injuries are most common found in the low back and neck and rarely occur in the mid-back. We see alot of lumbar “laminectomies”in workers who do alot of heavy lifting. A laminectomy or a micro -discectomy will often produce good results and in many instances injured workers will be able to return to rigorous work. If surgery is unsucessful, a lumbar or cervical “fusion” may be needed. This often occurs with a condition called “spondylolithesis” which involves a slippage o a vertebrae. In order to diagnose a disc problem an “MRI” is usually needed. If a condition is diagnosed as a “disc bulge” doctors wil normally try treating the condition with physical therapy or steroid injections.If the MRI is negative, doctors may determine that they are dealing with a strained or sprained back or neck. Where surgery is contemplated, doctors will normally do a test called a “myelogram’ with a “cat scan” in order to get the best possible look at the problem. In those cases where multiple surgeries have been performed and a “fusion’ is the ultimate outcome, some injured workers may become “permantly totally disabled” which means that they are unable to work or compete in the “open labor market”. Everyone is different and it is difficult to generalize. I once had a client who had five surgeries, including a disc fusion,who had a body like Charles Atlas and was running 5 miles a day! In any event, if you are confronted with a serious back or neck injury, it is important to ask your attorney about the reputation of the doctor who is treating you. submitted by Jeff Swaney FREE CONSULTATION (314) 310-8373