There were 5,388 crashes in Des Moines in 2008, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. There were 2,062 injuries in these accidents, 136 of which were major and 622 of which were minor. Back injuries can range in severity from minor to major, and some serious injuries might require surgery. Below is a brief overview of the types of back injuries accident victims might suffer, as well as the types of surgery they may require.
Common Car Accident Injuries Requiring Back Surgery
Bulging and herniated discs are common back injuries after car accidents. The spine consists of vertebra and discs that help increase flexibility. These discs are made of a harder outer shell (capsule) and softer inner cushion (nucleus). With bulging discs, the inner nucleus pushes against the capsule and causes a bulge. Herniated discs occur when the softer nucleus spills out of a tear in the capsule.
The results of these injuries are similar. Patients experience pain because the discs push against the nerves in the spinal cord. The pain is usually treated with rest, physical therapy and medication, but if these treatments don't work, doctors might recommend back surgery.
Spinal compression fractures are another back injury car accident victims might suffer. In some cases, a compression fracture might result in loss of spine height. Back pain and pain in the rest of the body can result from the actual injury and from the vertebrae pushing against the spinal cord. Surgery is common after spinal compression fractures.
This is a limited list of back injuries that might require surgery. Accident victims always should receive medical evaluation after an accident and discuss treatment options with their doctor.
Back Surgery Procedures
For bulging and herniated discs, discectomy and spinal fusion surgery may necessary. In this surgery, the doctor removes the affected disc (or a portion of it) and fuses the surrounding vertebra together using a bone graft. The procedure requires a significant healing and recovery period, and patients usually have some activity restrictions for several months after the surgery.
Vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are surgical procedures used to treat spinal compression fractures. With vertebroplasty, the surgeon injects a cement-like substance into the vertebrae to help mend the fractures, while kyphoplasty uses a balloon to inflate the vertebrae before injecting the cement. These procedures don't require large incisions and have much shorter recovery times than spinal fusion surgery.
Laminectomy and foraminotomy are procedures that expand the spinal cavity by removing structures in the spinal column, like the lamina on the back of the vertebra (laminectomy) or for other structures to widen the opening (foramina) where the nerves leave the spinal canal (foraminotomy). The idea is to reduce pressure on the spinal cord nerves.
Back Surgery and Car Accident Claims
Back surgeries can create substantial medical costs. There’s the initial care after the accident, the cost of surgery and even a hospital stay in many cases. If an accident victim is out of work for a long time after the surgery or cannot perform his or her old job, then the victim may face a substantial loss of wages and earning capacity.
Walker, Billingsley & Bair is committed to helping accident victims in the Des Moines area achieve fair settlements that account for the full range of their damages. Contact our office at 888-435-9886 set up a consultation to speak with an attorney about your case.