Everyone knows that driving a car is probably one of the most demanding tasks ever. As you need to have complete focus on the road, you can’t afford any distractions. Due to many different reasons, some people can’t follow up with this. Indeed, being in a car accident has to be one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through. Amongst the many different complications you can suffer, disc herniations are a significant one. Before we elaborate on this complication’s details, let’s look at the various auto accident causes.
What leads to auto accidents?
As most people don’t fully abide by road laws, this can leave a person’s life in a precarious position. If not death, then injuries like disc herniations.
- Distracted driving: One of the top reasons for auto accidents comes down to this carelessness. Despite popular belief, the brain is incapable of performing multiple tasks at the same time. However, most people show their negligence by indulging themselves in various activities, such as phone calls, texting, etc. When the brain can’t efficiently process what lies ahead, you are bound to find yourself in sticky situations.
- Drunk driving: Being intoxicated and being behind the wheel are among the worst couples in the history of this world. Even if you are drunk and out of your senses, it gives you no right to put other people’s lives at risk.
- Speeding: Most people can’t help themselves when it comes to pressing down on the pedal. The faster you go, the less time you have to react to everything else on the road. When your reaction time is insignificant, you can’t expect to walk away from unfavorable situations. The sad part is that these situations are avoidable if you don’t lose control behind the wheel.
- Reckless driving: Anyone who carelessly drives puts the lives of other individuals at risk. Switching lanes too quickly, blatantly disregarding other people’s safety and failure to follow traffic rules are all part of reckless driving.
Regardless of the accident being a human error or not, being in one can be considerably troublesome.
What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc. Our spinal discs have a soft, jelly-like interior that is encased in a firm and rubbery exterior. This integral structure provides support to the spine by acting as a shock-absorber. This complication refers to a problem with one of these rubbery cushions between the vertebrae. In this case, an auto accident provides the impact to slip or rupture a disc. When the jelly-like nucleus pushes out through a tear in the casing, it can compress a nerve root. As a herniated disc can occur in any part of the spine, any nearby nerve may face irritation. Considering where this complication arises, you can experience pain, numbness, and weakness in your arm or leg. However, some people don’t even show the symptoms. Even though you can suffer from a herniated disc in the neck, most cases are in the lower back. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms will depend on the location of the nerve root compression.
What increases your risk of having this complication?
Even though it may not seem like it, the injuries you suffer in an auto accident are more likely to happen because of your lifestyle. If it’s not up to par, your intervertebral discs could become weaker, making them more prone to damage during an accident. The factors that leave you susceptible are:
- Weight: If you are always carrying around extra body weight, your discs are bound to feel the pressure at some point. This excessive stress can weaken them and leave them prone to damage.
- Occupation: Some people have a relatively more physical lifestyle, working in jobs that include a greater risk of back problems. Repetitive movements like pulling, pushing, twisting, and sideways bending can increase the risk of injury.
- Smoking: The discs between our vertebrae are also living tissue, needing a constant oxygen supply to stay alive. However, smoking can lessen the oxygen that reaches these discs, causing them to break down at a much faster rate.
Although, the increase in susceptibility doesn’t always come down to your lifestyle. Some people are genetically born with a predisposition to developing herniated discs.
When to check in with a doctor
The symptoms always depend on the individual, the severity, and the location of impact. Depending on how much of the material leaks out from the disc, your condition could become more severe. The most common symptoms include:
- Painful sensations in the arm, shoulder, leg, foot, thigh, calf, and buttocks
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the shoulders, back, arms, hands, legs, or feet
- Neck pain
- A problem in bending or straightening the back
- Muscle weakness
If your situation is relatively more critical, you may notice:
- Painkillers that are not helping
- The pain is not any better after a month
- A very high temperature that makes you feel hot and shivery
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swelling in the back
- Pain worsening at night time
Depending on your situation, you could need immediate medical assistance. However, the symptoms don’t even show in some cases. This fact is why you should always seek medical help after an auto accident.
Diagnosing the situation
During the medical examination, the doctor will assess various parts of your body. This check-up reveals the wellness of the body’s systems, such as reflex action, muscle health, walking ability, and the capability to sense physical stimulation. Apart from that, further testing shows the state of your spine. These examinations include:
- X-ray: Digital X-ray imaging allows you to see a picture on a computer immediately. This imaging allows the doctor to review the results quickly and give a fast response to your condition.
- CT scan: These scans might be necessary to show an image of the soft and hard tissue body structure. Due to this reason, this test can reveal disc herniations that indicate soft tissue and spinal damage.
- MRI scan: This scan is helpful when an X-ray doesn’t show any apparent problems. An MRI is also effective in indicating a disc herniation. Thanks to the successful implementation of magnetic field gradients, your auto injury doctor can see the injured area in great detail.
As far as short-term relief is concerned, the doctor may prescribe a strong painkiller, a steroid injection, or a muscle relaxant. Further treatment includes:
- Orthopedic cure: These solutions include axial fusion, endoscopic foraminotomy, micro-discectomy, cervical disc replacement, percutaneous discectomy, transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, etc. Relatively less invasive procedures may comprise stem cell injection therapy and epidural steroid injections.
- Chiropractic care: If you visit a chiropractor, they will assess your entire spine with its related systems. They can treat disc herniations to alleviate pain amongst other symptoms. The preferred treatment usually involves spinal adjustment and physical manipulation that ease your symptoms.
Apart from medical therapy, you can practice home remedies and lifestyle changes. Besides taking the pain medication provided by your doctor, try heat or cold compressions, avoid lengthy bed rest, and resume activities gradually.
Even though there are numerous treatment options available to deal with disc herniations, you should always try avoiding such situations. Practicing a healthy lifestyle that doesn’t leave you susceptible to injury is crucial. On top of that, always keep your eyes glued to the road when you’re in the driving seat.