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Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Jan 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

Car accidents can lead to many types of injuries. Some of the most common injuries include brain trauma, fractures, cuts, and whiplash. What many victims may not realize, however, is that car accidents can also make existing health conditions worse. Victims with degenerative disc disease may find that after a car accident, their pain flares up or worsens as a result. If you experienced a car accident and are noticing that your degenerative disc disease symptoms are exacerbated, you may be able to recover compensation. Trust the experienced Nashville car accident lawyers at Labrum Law to help you negotiate with insurers and prove your degenerative disc disease aggravated by car accident injuries when it matters most. Contact us at (615) 338-9500 or reach out online to set up a consultation.

Degenerative Disc Disease

According to University of Michigan Health, degenerative disc disease is a generic term for a number of changes that occur to the neck and spine as people age. Discs in the neck and back work as “shock absorbers” when the body moves, twists, or experiences any sort of trauma. Over time, these discs begin to wear down, bulge out, or narrow.

Three of the most common syndromes resulting from degenerative disc disease include:

  • Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the discs breaks down
  • Herniated disc occurs when the spinal disc bulges out or breaks
  • Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows 

The causes of degenerative disc disease are not entirely known, but medical experts suspect that it results from a number of factors, such as heredity, injuries, and extensive use during the lifetime, such as heavy lifting. 

How Do I Know If I Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, when arthritis in the neck and spine is mild, usually it is difficult to detect at all because the patients do not experience pain. However, as it becomes more severe, the patient may develop chronic pain in the neck and shoulders, or even radiating pain or numbness down the arm. Another potential symptom of degenerative disc disease is when the muscles in the shoulders and neck become weak, as this may be a sign of nerve damage. 

Arthritis in the neck and spine can be difficult to detect, but it usually begins when the patient tells the doctor that they are experiencing pain. In more severe cases, an x-ray will be able to reveal that the cartilage is wearing thin. Treatment will tend to focus on managing pain with medication or cortisone shots, and increasing range of motion through physical therapy. Degenerative disc disease is typically a common part of aging, though the pain that people suffer varies depending on the severity of the wear and tear. 

Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

Car accidents alone generally do not cause degenerative disc disease. Arthritis is usually a degenerative disease that occurs gradually over the years, and it is typically from natural causes. However, a traumatic injury, like degenerative disc disease can start the process of degeneration.

For a car accident victim with degenerative disc disease, the trauma of a sudden impact can be extremely painful. Remember that the discs act as shock absorbers; when a victim's spinal discs are worn down from osteoarthritis, their body is not as well-equipped to handle the shock of a car accident. This means that victims with arthritis may suffer more chronic pain as a result of a car accident. Even victims who did not know they had degenerative disc disease may begin to feel the symptoms for the first time after a car accident.

In some cases, a car accident can cause a herniated disc. University of Michigan Health says that a sudden acute impact can begin the process of degeneration.

In other words, only rarely does a car accident cause degenerative disc disease, but this does not mean that the pain you feel after an accident does not warrant compensation. The at-fault party is responsible for all the damage the accident caused, even if degenerative disc disease aggravated by car accident already existed.

Proving Your Injuries

When bringing a car accident claim, you need to be able to establish all of the damages you suffered, and equally importantly, you need to be able to prove that the car accident caused those injuries. Establishing that an accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition like degenerative disc disease can be tricky because the at-fault driver's attorney will typically try to argue that the car accident did not cause it. This is where an experienced Tennessee car accident attorney can help. At Labrum Law, we know what it takes to draw a strong connection between the accident and the resulting injuries. By analyzing medical records, we can work with our clients to identify all of the injuries and pain the accident caused them so we can fight to win them the compensation they deserve.

Pain and Suffering

Degenerative disc disease, like osteoarthritis or herniated discs, is painful enough as it is. When a degenerative disc disease aggravated by car accident occurs, the pain may be so severe that you can no longer take part in the activities you need to and love to do, such as going to work, taking care of the home, exercising, and participating in hobbies. This suffering and loss of enjoyment can be compensated as part of your car insurance claim. Though it's difficult to put a dollar figure on your comfort and happiness, an experienced attorney will help you calculate a fair amount of compensation based on the severity and permanence of your injury. 

Contact Our Experienced Tennessee Car Accident Lawyers

When an at-risk victim suffers a traumatic impact in a car accident, it can cause pre-existing degenerative disc disease to rapidly get worse. If you believe you have a case, reach out to Labrum Law at (615) 338-9500, or contact us online to set up a free consultation. We know that after a car accident, you are concerned about regaining your health and paying off medical bills, which is why we want to help you understand all of your legal rights. We do not charge our clients a fee unless we win their case. 

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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