Car accidents can result in an incredible amount of force exerted against vehicles and their occupants. This force can lead to serious and debilitating injuries (such as spinal stenosis) that can further lead to temporary or permanent disability depending on the severity of the condition.
You may have never heard of the term “spinal stenosis,” but if you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident at some point in your life, you may be at risk for developing this painful condition.
What is Spinal Stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is defined as the narrowing of the spinal canal, where the spinal cord lies. The narrowing of the canal presses on both the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots, and can be identified by the following symptoms:
- Back pain;
- Weakness in the lower body;
- Paining, burning, numbness and/or tingling in the legs or buttocks;
- Foot drop while walking; and
- Increased pain while walking or standing.
Depending on the severity of the impact, a car accident can easily damage structures in the lower back. Car accidents can cause spinal stenosis on their own, or exacerbate a pre-existing condition which has already caused spinal canal narrowing.
How is Spinal Stenosis Diagnosed?
While spinal stenosis is one of the most common car accident injuries that affects the spine, it is also one of the most difficult injuries to diagnose. Symptoms may not be apparent immediately following a car accident, but it is nevertheless very important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident, even if you do not believe yourself to be serious injured.
Doctors will attempt to rule out other back injuries by first pressing on the area around the spine to check for pain, as well as taking X-rays of your lower back. X-rays do not allow doctors to see damage to the soft tissues around or inside the spinal canal, but they do allow doctors to see damage to the vertebrae sustained as a result of spinal stenosis.
In some cases, a doctor may order an MRI to look at the spinal cord and the surrounding soft tissues in order to confirm spinal stenosis. Doctors may also utilize other tests in order to confirm their diagnosis, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or a myelogram.
Treating Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis can bring severe pain to victims, and can ultimately lead to temporary or permanent disability if not treated in a timely manner. Spinal stenosis is typically treated with ongoing, nonsurgical options that can result in weeks or months of missed work. In many cases, spinal stenosis is treated by these nonsurgical options, which can include:
- Physical therapy;
- Prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); or
Particularly severe cases of spinal stenosis may require additional surgery in order to repair the affected areas. Surgery (and subsequent rehabilitation) can affect mobility for a few weeks after the operation, but patients generally are able to resume normal activities eight to twelve weeks after the procedure.
In addition to high medical costs and the intense pain and suffering associated with spinal stenosis, not being able to move during rehabilitation can make recovery a stressful experience. Fortunately, many victims are able to recover financial damages from the party responsible for their injury and their car insurance provider.
Liability for Spinal Stenosis
Liability for spinal stenosis claims will depend on the exact circumstances of the car accident that resulted in the injury. Anyone who experiencing severe back pain or any of the symptoms of spinal stenosis should seek medical attention as soon as possible to rule out other conditions and begin the recovery process.
In Arkansas, injured plaintiffs may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages and other accident-related costs from the driver responsible for a car accident resulting in personal injury. Because spinal stenosis can cost a significant amount of money to treat, can require time off of work and may even require surgery, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your right to legal compensation should be a priority after visiting a doctor.
At The Law Offices of Alan LeVar, we are prepared to bring an expert, hands-on approach to your car accident claim in order to see that you are justly compensated for your injuries. For more information or to discuss your claim with a passionate and experienced personal injury attorney, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.