Can a Car Accident Cause Degenerative Disc Disease?

September 6, 2022

The discs between the vertebrae and our spines play a very important role. These jelly-like discs are the shock absorbers that keep the bones in the vertebrae from grinding against one another. However, degenerative disc disease is an affliction that many individuals in the US suffer from, though this disease is usually age-related or caused by wear and tear on the spine over time. But, can a vehicle accident cause degenerative disc disease? The general consensus is that a vehicle accident will not cause this condition, but it can certainly exasperate degenerative disc disease that is already present in the spine.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

When we examine information presented by Cedars Sinai, we can see that nearly everyone’s spinal discs we’re down over time as they age. However, not every person will develop what is known as degenerative disc disease. This is somewhat of a misnomer, as this condition is not actually a disease. This occurs when a damaged disc in the spine causes pain. There are a wide range of signs and symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease.

The discs in our spine are little shock absorbers that work between each bone in the spine and help ensure that our backs remain flexible and resist forces of impact from different planes of motion. Every disc has two parts:

  1. A tough outer layer called the anulus fibrosis. This outer layer contains nerves, and any tear in the disc in this area can be painful.
  2. A softer, jelly-like center called the nucleus pulposus. This part of the spinal disc contains proteins that are generally no problem on their own but can cause tissues to become swollen and tender if they leak out of the center layer and through to the outer layer.

Once a spinal disc is injured, it cannot repair itself, and degeneration will begin to set in and occur over the next 20 to 30 years. This time frame is characterized by extreme pain until the body re-stabilizes that particular segment of the back.

Recovering Compensation After a Vehicle Accident

In most cases, car accidents are not the actual cause of degenerative disc disease, though a car accident could injure a spinal disc and begin the process of degeneration that a person may not even realize for years after the incident. What is much more likely is that an accident will trigger signs and symptoms of already existing degenerative disc disease.

Anytime an individual sustains an injury in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, they should be able to recover compensation. And this includes pain and suffering related to back injuries and exasperation of existing injuries, such as degenerative disc disease.

We strongly encourage any car accident victim to work with a skilled Martinsburg accident attorney who can examine the facts of the case, establish the liability, and work to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering caused by the incident. An attorney will work with trusted medical and economic experts to adequately calculate the compensation individual should receive, and they can have witnesses testify after the pain and suffering a person experiences as a result of the incident.


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