Can a Herniated Disc from a Car Crash Cause Permanent Damage?

A car accident is the last thing you expect to happen to you. Despite that, car accidents happen every day, and millions of people suffer from car accident injuries each year. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you will want to know the timeline for your recovery and whether you’ll be able to heal in full. While some car accident injuries can cause permanent damage, the sooner you seek treatment for your injuries, the greater your chances are for a swift recovery. One type of injury that can occur from a car crash is a herniated disc. Any damage to your spine should be taken very seriously to avoid the risk of permanent damage. Here’s what you need to know about a herniated disc from a car crash.

How the Spine and Discs Work

Your spine includes a series of vertebra and spinal discs that stack one on top of the other from the base of your skull through your lower back. The spinal column houses your central nervous system, which allows your brain to communicate with your whole body. The spine is divided into five sections: the cervical spine in your neck, the thoracic spine in your upper back, the lumbar spine in your lower back, and the sacrum and coccyx at the base of your spine. Thirty-three vertebrae provide stability and support to your whole body, and in between each of those are spinal discs. A spinal disc has a tough outer shell with a soft, gel-like center. These discs help separate two vertebrae from rubbing against one another and act as natural shock absorbers.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

Herniated Disc from a Car Crash Cause Permanent Damage

When one of the spinal discs in between two vertebrae slips out of place, it can compress a nearby nerve. This is known as a herniated disc. The outer shell of a spinal disc can get damaged due to pressure or a sudden force of impact on the spine, causing it to tear or crack. Then the gelatinous insides of the disc may protrude, putting pressure on a spinal nerve. This can cause pain, tingling, and numbness. A herniated disc can occur in any part of your spine, though they are more common in your neck and lower back. The head and neck are more susceptible to injury during a car wreck, so it is possible to sustain a herniated disc in your neck because of an injury like whiplash. When you experience a herniated disc, it can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

A herniated disc in your spine can cause pain in the area where the affected disc is located and elsewhere in the body. That is because nerves send signals throughout different parts of the body, so pressure or injury to a nerve can cause it to misfire. A spinal nerve compressed by a herniated disc can send pain signals into your extremities, like your arms or legs. If you suffer a herniated disc in your neck after a car accident, then you might notice pain, tingling, and numbness that extends through one shoulder and into the arm and hand. A herniated disc in your lower back may cause pain, tingling, and numbness through your buttock, hip, and through your leg. A herniated disc will typically cause symptoms that only occur on one side of the body. Pain that radiates into your extremities may get worse with certain movements, like after moving from standing to sitting. The tingling and numbness that occurs with a herniated disc is also sometimes referred to as a pins and needles sensation. Certain movements or positions may make those symptoms worse.

Car Accidents and Herniated Discs

Whiplash is one of the most common car accident injuries, and it can lead to a herniated disc. While most of your upper body is restrained by a seat belt, your head and neck are left susceptible to damage in the event of a car crash. Your head and neck can snap forward and backward violently, which can cause damage to your neck muscles and spine. You may first notice stiffness and soreness in your neck because of whiplash after a car accident. As you regain movement in your neck, you may start to notice shooting or stabbing pain and other sensations. This could be the sign of a herniated disc caused by a whiplash injury after a car accident. To diagnose a herniated disc after a car crash, you can visit a car accident chiropractor for a thorough examination. Car accident chiropractors are highly knowledgeable and skilled in identifying and treating a wide range of injuries, including whiplash and herniated discs.

Diagnosing a Herniated Disc

A car accident chiropractor will assess your whole spine after a car accident to determine the extent of the damage. A physical examination will allow your chiropractor to identify misalignments in the spine that may have occurred due to the car accident. If your vertebrae or spinal discs were shifted or forced out of place because of the accident, this could be what is causing your pain and other symptoms. When your chiropractor locates the herniated disc, they will also want to determine the root cause. This could be a whiplash injury, which would require additional treatment and support. They may want to run diagnostic imaging tests to get a clearer picture of how your internal structures were impacted by the car crash. X-rays can provide your chiropractor with a more detailed look at the alignment of your vertebrae and also help rule out other injuries. Once they determine the precise location of the herniated disc, your chiropractor can develop a personalized plan of care.

Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc

Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc

Your treatment options for a herniated disc will depend on the location and severity of the injury. In many cases, a herniated disc can be resolved with noninvasive treatment techniques like chiropractic care. Chiropractors offer an all-natural and drug-free approach to managing your pain and other symptoms after a car accident injury. Treatment techniques like chiropractic adjustments are safe and effective ways to resolve misalignments of the vertebrae and spinal discs. A chiropractor can help resolve your symptoms by helping the spinal disc back into its correct positioning, which then takes the pressure off nearby spinal nerves and eliminates your symptoms. Other techniques like therapeutic massage and soft tissue mobilization can help any damaged muscles nearby. Spinal decompression therapy can also help relieve pain and issues associated with a herniated disc after a car accident.  

To avoid any permanent damage, visit your car accident chiropractor as soon as possible after a car crash. If left untreated, a herniated disc can cause nerve damage that may become permanent. Chronic pain is common with car accident injuries that go untreated. Work with your chiropractor after an accident on ways to reduce your pain and risk of any long-lasting or permanent damage from your injuries. At Affordable Chiropractic Killeen, our Bell County chiropractors offer comprehensive treatment for all types of car accident injuries. We will work with you from your initial appointment through your treatment to ensure you have everything you need to recover fully. Contact our car accident chiropractors to provide customized plans of care that include active rehabilitation, so you can experience lasting pain relief and regain your strength and mobility after a car accident injury.