Damage to the spinal cord injury is one of the most severe injuries that can happen on the job. You may permanently lose strength or motion in some or all of your extremities. Even with surgery, some people may not recover all their pre-injury functions.
Prior to any type of non-conservative treatment you would surly want to undergo diagnostic testing to confirm or rule out what type of injury you are suffering from.
The most common tests to diagnose spinal cord injuries are:
- X-rays. X-rays can reveal damage to the bone surrounding the spinal cord, known as the vertebrae. They also can find tumors, fractures or changes in the spine.
- CT scan. A CT scan can provide a clearer image compared with an X-ray. This scan uses computers to form a series of cross-sectional images that can define bone, disk and other changes.
- MRI. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce computer-generated images. This test is helpful for looking at the spinal cord to find herniated discs, blood clots or other masses that might compress the spinal cord.
Typically, the first line of diagnostics which you will likely receive at a hospital are X-Rays. X-Rays are great tools to diagnose a fracture, however, it will not provide clear enough images of your ‘discs’ which is short for ‘intervertebral discs’. These are the spongy cushions that separate the bones of the spine (vertebrae). Discs provide shock absorption and keep the spine stable and allow your vertebrae to pivot and move. Many doctors like to describe discs as the jelly of a jelly donut.
Two of the most common spinal cord injuries are disc bulges and the more severe, disc herniations. While our aging process can play a role in disc pathology, discs are susceptible to trauma. When a disc suffers injury, it may swell beyond its normal boundary. This usually occurs at a single point, but can occur throughout the disc. When this disc protrudes out it pushes on adjacent nerves or on the spinal cord itself causing different degrees of pain and limitations. Quite literally the disc bulges.
A disc herniation occurs when the disc bulges out too far causing the outer layer of cartilage to crack. An untreated disc bulge can become a disc herniation over time, but a disc may herniate from an acute injury or trauma. Herniated discs typically will cause more symptoms compared to disc bulges as the disc or discs may be pushing up against the nerves or spinal cord more. Typically disc herniations are associated with numbness and tingling down into your arms, hands and fingers for cervical (neck) disc herniations and down through your legs into your feet and toes for thoracic (mid) and lumbar (lower) back herniations. The associated symptoms are dependent on the severity and level(s) of the spinal cord the disc is herniating.
While conservative treatment such as physical therapy and chiropractic care can help you strengthen the surrounding muscle to add a layer of protection to the area and ice, heat, massage, and medications may provide anti-inflammatory relief, typically for true severe acute injuries the relief these treatments provide are only temporary. Cortisone and epidural injections may also provide great immediate relief, but also may only be temporary.
Advances in medical technology have led to possible improvements for those living with spinal cord injuries. Doctors may perform surgery to give patients a better chance of regaining some function. Everyone is different and everyone’s disc injuries are different. Thus, there are many different types of surgeries one could have. What may have been the best surgery for your neighbor may not be the best surgery for you. These surgeries should always be performed by a doctor who is highly specialized, and patient focused.
If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that cover the medical costs of treating your spinal cord injury and part of your lost wages. You are also entitled to compensation for your work injury.
If you have been injured in a car crash or as the result of someone else’s negligence, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation or personal injury lawyer for help with your complex case.
Contact a Monmouth County Workers’ Compensation Personal Injury Lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael S. Williams for Help with Your Spinal Cord Work Injury Case. A Monmouth County workers’ compensation, car accident and personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael S. Williams can provide you with diligent and compassionate legal representation. We offer free consultations. Call 732-351-2800 or complete our online form today. We have offices in Tinton Falls and New Brunswick, New Jersey. We serve clients in the Shrewsbury, Tinton Falls, Monmouth County, and Middlesex County areas and throughout the state.