Our Blog

Can a Car Accident Cause a Degenerative Disc?

The discs that sit in between the vertebrae in our spines play a crucial role. These discs are filled with a jelly-like substance that acts as a cushion between the vertebrae and keeps the bones from grinding against one another. Unfortunately, degenerative disc disease is not uncommon, although this is typically age-related or due to wear and tear on the spinal discs over time. However, a car accident could cause a worsening of a degenerative disc disease already present.

Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease

Individuals often sustain various types of back injuries throughout their lifetime, and these injuries may not necessarily be related to traumatic incidents. The spinal cord and the discs in between each vertebra can show signs of wear and tear as individuals get older. However, not every person will develop degenerative disc disease. The reality is that this is not necessarily a “disease” that someone catches or that is caused by immune issues. Rather, this is a condition where one of the discs in between vertebrae (or multiple discs) breakdown and causes pain for an individual. Degenerative discs can lead to a range of symptoms, including pain and suffering.

The discs in our spine act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. The discs help ensure that our back remains flexible while resisting forces as the spine moves in various directions. Every disc has two separate parts:

  1. A tougher outer layer, called the annulus fibrosis. This outer layer of the disc contains nerves, and any bulge or tear in the disc in this area can be painful.
  2. A soft jelly-like center, called the nucleus pulposus. This part of the disc contains proteins that could cause tissues to become swollen or tender if they come into contact with them. In the event a disc is ruptured and these proteins leak out, this can affect the nerves and other areas around the spinal column.

One of the major problems with spinal discs is that they have a limited amount of blood supply, unlike other bodily tissues that continuously receive blood and can regenerate. When a disc is damaged, it will not be able to repair itself, which leads to degeneration. Degenerative disc disease typically takes 20 to 30 years to complete a “cycle,” which begins with back pain and continues to make the spine more unstable.

If a person is already experiencing signs of degenerative disc disease, then general trauma can worsen an already severe issue. Even though trauma is not the main cause of degenerative disc disease, an incident like a vehicle accident can certainly worsen an already present problem. 

Work With an Attorney After a Car Accident Spine Injury

If you or a loved one have sustained any type of back or spine injury as a result of a vehicle accident, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled personal injury lawyer will examine the facts of your case, uncover the evidence needed to prove liability, and make sure that you are evaluated by a trusted medical professional. The ultimate goal is for you to recover compensation for any medical bills, including compensation for worsened degenerative disc disease.