Can a Car Accident Lead to Degenerative Disc Disease?

by Staff | March 7th, 2022

Due to the weight of motor vehicles and their speed, the impact they can cause is intense, resulting in serious injuries for drivers and passengers. Head, neck, and back injuries are common in car accidents and can affect those with pre-existing conditions such as degenerative disc disease.

If you have neck or back pain after a car accident, it may be related to this condition. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible and consult with one of our California car accident lawyers.

How Do Car Accidents Affect Degenerative Disc Disease?

The sudden impact at the back of your vehicle can move your body forward before your seatbelt snaps you back violently. If you experience an impact on another part of your vehicle, this can cause a violent jolt to the spine, damaging spinal discs and causing them to shift out of alignment.

Many people have a form of this injury before the accident, especially those over 40. The cartilage pads between bones in your spinal column can dry out during disc degeneration.

Tears and cracks can be a factor in worsening your condition. If your back injuries cause the spinal discs to degrade, they can result in chronic pain throughout your body and affect your quality of life.

How to Identify Degenerative Disc Disease

A doctor must first diagnose the condition before you can file a compensation claim for additional pain from your degenerative disc disease. If you experience the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, you can seek treatment. Some common symptoms include:

  • Mild to severe pain in the lower back, hips, and legs
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms or legs
  • Increased levels of pain while sitting, twisting, or lifting
  • Chronic pain lasting for weeks or months at a time

The doctor can check for signs of bone deterioration by using X-rays and determine the distance between the vertebrae. Diagnostic imaging can show whether a disc’s soft tissue compresses the spinal cord or a nerve.

Additionally, your doctor might use a reflex hammer to test your reflexes and touch your back so they can measure your neural function and pain levels. If you have little or no reaction, you have likely damaged or compressed nerves. They can also check to see if there is muscle weakness or shrinkage from degenerated discs in your spine.

Treating Degenerative Disc Disease

Your doctor may recommend non-invasive treatments for your degenerative disc disease, which include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medications, such as muscle relaxers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or steroids
  • Steroid injections to lessen inflammation and pain near your spinal nerves, disc, and joints
  • Radiofrequency neurotomy to burn sensory nerves and prevent pain signals from going to your brain with electric currents

Spinal decompression surgery can alleviate nerve pressure if you have persistent pain and weakness from this condition. These treatments can result in an increasing number of medical bills for which you can receive compensation.  

How to Prove Damages in a Car Accident From Degenerative Disc Disease

If you suffered from degenerative disc disease before your accident and your symptoms worsened, you can still seek compensation for the additional pain from the exacerbated symptoms. This is because you may only receive compensation for the harm resulting from the accident, not for injuries that occurred previously.

Keep a journal that demonstrates how the increased pain from your accident exacerbated your degenerative disc disease. This may include recording the difficulty of completing your daily tasks and the steps you have taken to lessen the pain.

Your medical bills from your treatments and surgeries, if applicable, can also show the extent of your pain and suffering.

A lawyer can work closely with your doctor and a medical expert to obtain your medical records, including your official diagnosis and any imaging results that show the difference from before the accident.

These documents highlight the harmful effects the driver’s negligence had on your body. A medical expert can discuss how the accident worsened your symptoms of degenerative disc disease.

Talk About Your Injury With California Auto Accident Attorneys

With an experienced lawyer by your side, you can take steps to build a strong case and find a way to recover fair compensation. To find out how to get started with your claim, book a free consultation with Berg Injury Lawyers today.