Horrible news for our Rangers: a devastating neck injury has sidelined superstar Prince Fielder. Yesterday the team announced that the six time All Star is retiring after 11 years in the major leagues.
At age 32, doctors have declared Fielder “medically disabled” and refused to clear him to ever return to the baseball field.
Fielder just had to undergo his second surgical fusion a few weeks ago to repair another herniated disc that put him at risk of a severe spinal cord injury.
But Prince Fielder isn’t the only one who is unable to work because of an injured neck or back. As a personal injury lawyer, I often represent clients who have unfortunately suffered debilitating injuries to their spines.
Disc injuries after vehicle collisions
The discs are the spongy material between each of the 33 interlocking bones that protect the spinal cord called vertebrae. They cushion the vertebrae and allow for flexibility of motion in your spine.
A forceful blow to your body, like the one that occurs during a car or truck accident, can cause your disc to bulge or rupture. The force splits the strong outer shell of the disk and the soft jelly-like material inside pushes through the crack. The pressure of the jelly-like substance on spinal nerves can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.
The occupant’s age, physical condition, prior injuries, and seating position and the type and weight of vehicles, speed, and angle of impact come into play. Even an apparently visually minor impact can sometimes result in severe injuries to the neck or back, as some people’s bodies and vehicles are not able to withstand the forces generated in crashes.
Diagnosing spinal disc injuries
Symptoms of disc herniation may progress over several days after your car or truck wreck. You might be in shock with adrenaline flowing and not feel any pain at the scene of the crash, but feel the pain grow as the interior of the disc pushes on your spinal nerves.
Injury to your neck discs may also cause problems in your shoulders, arms, hands and fingers, while injury to back discs may also cause symptoms in your pelvis, legs and feet. The most commonly injured discs are cervical 4-7, lumbar 4 and 5, and sacrum 1 due to the spinal curve shown in the diagram. Sometimes discs bulge out or protrude on nerve roots.
Your doctor may diagnose a herniated disc if you experience these symptoms:
- Excruciating pain that radiates into your limbs
- Loss of sensation, numbness and tingling
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order sophisticated tests including CT scans, MRIs, EMGs, and myelograms.
What can be done?
Medications, physical therapy, and cortisone injections hopefully can relieve your pain and inflammation. If your symptoms persist and other less extreme measures do not help you, you should consult with a neurosurgeon ASAP.
There are different procedures he can consider, including minimally invasive discectomies. Fusions graft a bone to the injured segment of the spine.
Long-term effects of injured discs
A herniated disc can cause lingering pain and numbness that interfere with every aspect of your life. Working and raising a family may become difficult or impossible. Sleeping, sitting, standing and walking are challenging. You will no longer be able to do the activities you love.
This nightmare requires the best medical care so you recover from your injuries and the best lawyer so you can receive the compensation you deserve.