Radiculopathy is a condition caused by compression of nerves at their base in the spine. The compression or pinching of the nerve base in the spine results in numbness, tingling or pain along the route of the nerve in the body such as the foot, leg or neck. In other words, radiculopathy is when a pinched nerve in your back causes pain in another part of your body that is connected to that nerve.Radiculopathy Resulting From Car Accident
Even low-speed car accidents end up putting a lot of sudden downward force on the spine. This pressure on the spinal column is the source of the most common car accident injury - a herniated disc. In between the bones of the spine there are discs which act like pads. These discs are sort of like jelly rings with a soft center and a fibrous casing on the outside that holds the soft part in. Disc herniation occurs when the fibrous outer casing of a spinal disc ruptures causing the soft center to bulge out.
A herniated disc can be a very painful injury which sometimes requires surgery to treat. Disc herniation can have other complications one of which is radiculopathy. There are a number of primary nerves that originate in the spine and travel throughout the body. When the spinal disc herniates and bulges out it can often pinch or compress these nerves at their base on the spine. This compression at the base of the nerve can cause pain and numbness all along the pathway of that nerve in the body. The pathway that the pain radiates to in the body depends on where the compressed nerve in the spine is.
Lumbar Radiculopathy: A pinched nerve in the lower area of the spine will typically cause radicular pain to radiate down the sciatic nerve which goes down the back of the leg to the foot. This is sometimes referred to as lumbar radiculopathy or sciatica.
Cervical Radiculopathy: Disc herniation in the upper area of the spine often compress or pinch the C6 nerve root. The C6 nerve runs through the neck to the arms and hands. So nerve compression in the upper spine can result in radicular pain in the neck and arms. This is often referenced as cervical radiculopathy.
Radiculopathy is typically diagnosed based on physical examination of a patient and a description of symptoms. For example, if you have recently suffered a herniated disc and start experiencing pain or numbness, your doctor may be able to confirm radiculopathy from nerve damage based on a brief physical examination. Advanced diagnostic tests such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or an EMG (electromyography) are the most accurate way to diagnose disc herniation and radiculopathy.Treatment Options for Radiculopathy
Treatment of radiculopathy and disc herniation usually starts with medication and physical therapy. If this is not effective, epidural steroid injections might be necessary to treat the inflammation and resulting pain. In some cases, surgery might be the only effective treatment option.Compensation for Radiculopathy
If you herniated a disc in a car accident and have been diagnosed with radiculopathy as a result, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury. Radiculopathy can be a particularly painful complication associated with disc herniation and treatment can be prolonged and expensive. If caused by another driver's negligence you can get compensation for medical expenses; lost wages and your pain and suffering associated with radiculopathy.Radiculopathy Verdicts & Settlements
Below are some recent verdicts and settlements awarding damages for radiculopathy:
Schlemann v. Hoyos (2017): In this rear-end collision case, the plaintiff's primary long-term injury was cervical radiculopathy. The jury awarded total damages of $250,000. The pain and suffering associated with plaintiff's radiculopathy accounted for $230,000 of the damages. (Montgomery County)
Bryant v. Allstate Ins. Co. (2017): In this case, the plaintiff was hit by a drunk driver and slammed into a guardrail. Plaintiff's primary physical injury was a herniated disc resulting in radiculopathy in the upper spine (cervical). Plaintiff was awarded $130,00 for pain and suffering and total damages of $285,000. (Prince George's County)
Blevins v. Rhodes (2016): In this rear-end collision case plaintiff had to have back surgery to treat lumbar radiculopathy. He was awarded $75,000 for pain and suffering and $131,000 for medical expenses. (Prince George's County)
If you or a family member have been suffering from radiculopathy or disc herniation resulting from a car accident, the personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois can help you get compensation. We will evaluate your case at no fee or cost to you so you can better understand your options.
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