Spine Injuries 101

Spine injuries are some of the most common injuries we see in motorcycle accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and slip and falls. But many people do not know much about the spine. Spinal injuries vary in intensity, from a bulging disc that could be causing zero pain to a herniated disc(s) that might be pressing against your spinal cord or a nerve root ending causing numbness, tingling, radiating pain and, in the most severe cases, paralysis.

Basic Spine Injury Medical Terms

Below are some of the common spinal cord medical terms you will hear related to a spine injury.

Lordosis: curvature of the cervical

Kyphosis: curvature of thoracic

Lordosis: curvature of lumbar

Spondylolisthesis: slipped disk (usually degenerative, rarely traumatically induced unless its an exceptionally high-energy impact).

Intervertebral Discs: these are the cushions in between vertebral bodies that make up your spine. They are the shock absorbers of the spine allowing for greater mobility and range of motion. For more discussion of basic spine anatomy, click the link. Glucosamine keeps intervertebral discs (IVD)Â hydrated. IVDs are similar to ligaments because they connect bone to bone, but different in that they have a very limited blood supply. The surrounding endplates have very tiny vessels that help give nutrients to the IVD and takes away waste.

The IVD has layers of concentric circles that act to absorb and dissipate force and contain the nucleus pulposa (which has a lot of water in it). Compressing the IVD forces water into the bone because it is a noncompressible material : think belly flop effect if you put pressure on it, it has to go somewhere. If the force/pressure is too great, you get a herniation.We tend to see more cervical and lumbar injuries in a car accident and other personal injury cases, because those areas of the spine are way more mobile, whereas the thoracic area is really held tight by the rib cage.

  • Interestingly, of all cervical motion (making the yes movement with head) is in C1-2. But you don’t see a lot of injuries between C1-4 because the lower levels are whats called transition points. There is lots of motion above C5-7, zero motion beneath (because thoracic levels are held in place, supported by the rib cage, so the lower cervical spine levels absorb the brunt of the force and are more likely to be injured.

Annular tear (also called a Rim Lesion) without herniation can still cause severe pain because pain fibers penetrate through the annulus. Most doctors view an annular tear as a soon-to-be herniation. To read more about herniated discs, click the link.

Osteophytes do not come about in a matter of days. It’s the body’s response to ongoing stress and damage and takes a significant amount of time to appear (can be after an accident, which is why it’s important to have MRIs done relatively shortly after the accident, and maybe again some months later).

Myelopathy refers to problems concerning the spinal cord. Cervical nerves give us strength and movement in our arms. When impinged, you have myelopathy which can result in a multitude of problems.Nerves are like a flimsy piece of spaghetti. So when it is touched or compressed, can lead to pain and other problems of varying severity.

When To Get Spine Surgery?

Theoretically, spinal cord surgery is simple, it is designed to solve two types of problems:

  1. Instability: treat by fusing or replacing the problem disc
  2. Compression: treat by decompressing

What is Replacement Surgery?

Replacement surgery involves removing the natural intervertebral disc and replacing it with an artificial disk, designed to mimic the motion of the cervical spine (replacing lumbar discs has fallen out of favor in the medical community. There was a significant increase in medical malpractice cases involving a lumbar replacement that popped out several months after the procedure). This also has the benefit of keeping a relatively good cervical range of motion and discourages adjacent disc disease (although nothing is as good as the real thing).

What is Fusion Surgery?

An orthopedic spine surgeon inserts a structure between the two vertebrae (made of plastic or metal) to encourage the bone to fuse together to stop motion.Fusion is a highly successful procedure. But in the cervical level, if young enough you also want to do the disc replacement. Fusion alone brings a high likelihood of adjacent-disc disease (other discs compensate by carrying the extra burden and will degenerate faster).Future medical treatment after a fusion: the idea is always to return the body to a state of normalcy as much as possible, which is why replacement is favored over a fusion alone, but all these materials inserted into the body have a lifespan, something we keep in mind.For more discussion on whether or not to get surgery for a herniated disc, click the link.

Intervertebral Disc or Facet Joint Injury

The problem can be with the disc or the facet. General Rule of Thumb: if you have more pain while sitting for long periods: disk problem; more pain while standing for long periods: facet problem.

Myelogram a good secondary study to an MRI. The absence of dye shows the herniation.If looking forward in an auto accident, facets hold up really well. If looking to the side, facets are more easily damaged.

Rhizotomy rhizotomy or ablation procedures are for facet problems only. Injections/facet blocks will always only produce temporary relief. But they are good diagnostically because if a doctor sees a facet block as helping the pain, he/she can be confident that a rhizotomy will almost completely eliminate the pain forever or for a sustained period of time.Another often-overlooked condition is

Sacro-Iliac Joint Dysfunction. 1/3rd of those with back pain have SI joint dysfunction. It is hard to diagnose because it won’t show up on an MRI. If there is a normal MRI and the patient is still miserable we know to look at the SI, if pain medicine injection relieves the pain, a diagnosis if sacroiliac joint dysfunction is an appropriate diagnosis.SI joint dysfunction pain is commonly seen in slip and falls where the slip and fall client falls backward, landing on the buttocks. SI pain is also elicited in car accidents because the pelvis or SI joint is locked in place. We are more likely to see SI joint dysfunction pain on the right side because the right foot is pressed hard against the brakes.If you have a spinal cord injury from a car accident or slip and fall, it is important to immediately seek medical attention and then reach out to a personal injury attorney.

Over 100 Years of Combined Personal Injury Experience in Florida

Start My Claim (305) 404-8217


Quote Quote

You Only Pay Legal Fees if We Win a Settlement

Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA handles a variety of personal-injury cases. We understand that you are concerned about getting healthy, getting back to work, paying your bills and of course, being fully compensated for your loss. Contact us to start the path to wholeness from your injury today.

Get Consultation
  • NEVER Pay A Fee Unless We Win Your Case

  • Highly Experienced & Professional Representationur

  • Start Your Claim Off With A FREE Case Evaluation

  • Get Back To NORMAL... As Soon As Possible

Request a Free Consultation

All Consultations Are Free of Charge

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Helping those Injured in Accidents Across Florida

While we are proud to call Miami and Aventura home, we are also more than happy to help injured people living anywhere in the Sunshine State. In fact, we’ve even been known to travel all around the country just to meet our clients’ needs.

We are here to help the residents of:

Recent Articles from the Blog


What are ‘Intervening’ and ‘Superseding’ Causes in a Personal Injury Case?

When someone is injured due to a party’s negligence or carelessness, it is up to the insured person to prove that negligence caused the...

Read More..
Scooter Accidente

Injured on a Scooter and Moped Accident? | Neufeld, Kleinberg, & Pinkiert

Motor Scooter and Moped Accidents Account for a Significant Amount of Injuries in Florida. Have you been in a Scooter or Moped Accident? ...

Read More..
Miami Top Five Common Personal Injury Lawsuits

Top Five Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits in Miami

Personal injury law is a branch of civil law that deals with cases where a person has been injured due to the negligence or intentional...

Read More..

What do you do if you are in a motorcycle accident in Florida?

Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, resulting in serious injuries and significant medical bills. If you’ve been involved in a...

Read More..

What do you do if you slip and fall?‍

Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Whether it’s a wet floor in a grocery store or a poorly...

Read More..

Empathy and Compassion in Personal Injury Law: Why It Matters for Your Case and Recovery

When you’ve been injured in an accident, the last thing you want is to deal with an unsympathetic or uncompassionate personal injury...

Read More..