Can a Car Accident Aggravate a Spine Condition Such as Spondylosis?May 18, 2021
Car accidents can cause a wide range of personal injury, including broken bones, cuts and lacerations, organ damage, and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Spinal cord injuries are also common, particularly if the vehicles were traveling at a high speed and the force of impact was severe. In addition to the injuries that are directly caused by the car accident, they can also aggravate a preexisting condition of the victim. Spondylosis is one example of a degenerative spinal condition that can be made significantly worse by the impact of a car accident. In fact, in some cases, a car accident victim may not realize that they have spondylosis until it becomes aggravated by the accident. Although car accidents are rarely the cause of spondylosis, the impact of the accident can certainly aggravate the condition, resulting in significant pain and discomfort. A skilled car accident lawyer can ensure that the injured victim receives the full financial compensation they deserve for their injuries, including a preexisting condition that was aggravated by the trauma of the accident.
What is Spondylosis?
Also known as spondylolisthesis, spondylosis is a degenerative spinal condition that occurs when the intervertebral disks start to lose fluid and wear down. The disks between each vertebra are made of cartilage, which provides cushioning between the bones of the spine. When the cartilage wears down, the body may create bone spurs that can push on adjacent vertebrae. This can be very painful. When the disks and joints of the spine become damaged, it can compromise the movement and function of the spine. In addition, a person who suffers from this degenerative condition is more susceptible to injuries, including those caused by car accidents. Cervical spondylosis, which affects the bones in the neck, is the most common form of spondylosis. It is also referred to as osteoarthritis of the neck. Although it is often a result of the aging process, other individuals who are at an increased risk of developing the condition include people who have family members with spondylosis, construction workers and other workers who do a great deal of heavy lifting, truck drivers who are exposed to significant vibration, and individuals who suffered a previous neck injury.
What are the Symptoms of Spondylosis?
Although spondylosis can occur in any area of the spine, the areas that are most commonly affected are the cervical and lumbar areas of the spine, which are the top and bottom area of the spinal cord. In some cases, an individual may suffer from multilevel spondylosis, which affects more than one area of the spine. Depending what area of the spine is affected, the person may experience a range of symptoms, including the following:
- Back or neck pain
- Body stiffness
- Chronic back pain
- Disk herniation
- Loss of balance or struggling to walk
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Muscle spasms
- Shooting pain in the limbs
- Shoulder pain
- Tingling and weakness
- Trouble walking or sitting for long periods
- Weakness in the arms and legs
Unfortunately, any of these symptoms or a combination of the above can compromise a person’s ability to work, exercise, or carry out other daily activities. Suffering from mild to moderate pain on a daily basis can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall quality of life.
What are the Common Causes of Spondylosis?
Spondylosis is a degenerative condition, so it often occurs as a result of the normal aging process. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 85 percent of people over the age of 60 have been diagnosed with cervical spondylosis. In addition, by the time most people reach the age of 40, they will have some form of spondylosis because of the natural aging process that causes the jelly-like spinal disks to dry out. In some cases, however, children are born with the condition, and young adults may experience lower back pain that can be addressed early on with physical therapy. The following are examples of some of the common causes of spondylosis:
- Degeneration: Over time, the disks between each vertebra become thinner and lose elasticity.
- Herniation: This occurs when part of the spinal disk becomes torn or cracked as part of the normal aging process. A herniation can cause the disk to bulge or press on the spinal nerves, which can cause severe pain, tingling, or numbness.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a progressive condition that causes the cartilage in the joints to degenerate. Osteoarthritis causes the joint to degenerate faster than the wear and tear associated with the aging process.
- Bone spurs: This occurs when the cartilage in the joints of the vertebrae starts to degenerate, causing the bone tissue to rub against other bone tissue, resulting in abnormal bone growth developing along the edges of the vertebrae. Depending on the severity of the bone spurs, they can cause severe pain or no symptoms at all.
What are the Treatment Options for Spondylosis?
If an individual starts to experience symptoms of spondylosis as a result of a car accident, there are a range of treatment options available to manage pain and other symptoms associated with the condition, including the following:
- Physical therapy: There are a range of targeted stretches and exercises that can relieve some of the symptoms associated with spondylosis. Some of these exercises can be done at home, whereas others require the assistance of a skilled physical therapist, who can ensure that the exercises are being done correctly. The number of physical therapy sessions will depend on the individual’s symptoms and severity of the condition.
- Ice, heat, and massage: These can provide relief from some of the common symptoms of spondylosis. However, some people find relief from heat, whereas others find that ice or massage helps. If a car accident aggravated the symptoms of spondylosis, the victims may need to experiment with each, or a combination of the three, to determine which is the most effective at relieving the symptoms.
- Oral medications: If the victim is in a significant amount of pain and other methods of treatment are not working, a health care provider may recommend a prescription muscle relaxant such as cyclobenzaprine or a nerve impingement medication like gabapentin for severe arm pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can provide pain relief.
- Soft collar brace: If limiting the person’s neck movement will help the strained muscles rest and recuperate, a health care provider may recommend a therapeutic collar for a limited amount of time.
- Injection therapy: This can provide temporary relief from pain and other symptoms. The most common types of injection therapy include cervical epidural blocks, cervical facet joint blocks, and media branch block and radiofrequency ablation.
- Surgery: This is for severe cases of spondylosis. Spine surgery is a complex procedure that involves a lengthy recovery period. Before proceeding with this line of treatment, the individual’s health care provider will assess the symptoms, determine the severity of the condition, and decide whether surgery is the best possible option.
Can I Recover Compensation if a Car Accident Aggravated My Preexisting Spondylosis?
Even if a car accident did not cause the spondylosis, it can certainly make the symptoms much more severe and can even cause a dormant case to become a life-altering condition that compromises the victim’s overall quality of life. Having a preexisting condition does not prevent the injured victims from collecting compensation. As a result, the injured party is entitled to the damages suffered as a result of the accident. The insurance company will likely try to argue that the preexisting condition is what is causing the victim’s pain, not the car accident. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the injured party consult with a skilled accident lawyer who can assist the victim with the claims process and articulate the difference between the victim’s condition before the accident and his or her current physical condition. This will likely involve obtaining copies of medical records from the health care provider who treated the victim’s injuries.
If the other driver involved in the accident was negligent in any way and his or her negligence is what caused the accident, the injured party will likely be eligible to collect financial compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses associated with the accident
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Car Accidents
If you suffered an injury as a result of a car accident, including spondylosis symptoms that were aggravated by the crash, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our dedicated legal team will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident and determine who is responsible for causing the accident. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.