Degenerative disc disease involves symptoms of back or neck pain that are frequently caused by repetitive stress on a spinal disc. It is one of the most common causes of lower back and neck pain.
In some instances, degenerative disc disease may cause the following:
- Hot, shooting pains in the arms or legs, known as radicular pain.
Degenerative disc disease is usually associated with low-level chronic pain that is accompanied by intermittent episodes of considerably more severe pain. It is common in the lower back and lumbar spine because these are the areas that are exposed to the most stress and motion and, therefore, are most susceptible to disc degeneration issues.
An individual’s spinal discs deteriorate over time, which may lead to issues including:
- Pinched or impinged nerves;
- Chronic back pain;
- Inflammation of spinal areas;
- Reduced space between vertebrae, or spinal compression.
Degenerative disc disease pain may be more intense when an individual is:
- Making other movements.
Because of these issues, an individual’s quality of life, as well as their ability to work, may be affected. Degenerative disc disease caused by trauma, such as a car accident or back injury, may occur, but in many situations, the disease results from aging.
However, the disease may sometimes be caused or aggravated by scar tissue from a previous injury.
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease arises when the spinal discs, which are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae, begin to deteriorate. Almost all individuals will have discs that break down, but not everyone will be affected by pain.
Spinal discs have a soft inner core and a tough outer wall. These discs change in ways that may lead to degenerative disc disease, such as drying out or cracking.
As individuals age, their discs lose water and become thinner. This process may lead to less padding between the vertebrae and other issues in the spine that may cause pain.
Discs can also get tiny tears in their outer walls that contain nerves with the stress of everyday movement and minor injuries over an individual’s life. This may cause them to become painful.
If the disc wall breaks down, the softcore may push through the cracks, causing the disc to bulge or slip out of place. This is called a slipped or herniated disc, which may also affect nearby nerves.
What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease include a sharp or constant pain in the back or neck. The exact symptoms will depend on where the weak disc is located and what changes it has caused.
Common symptoms of the disease include pain that:
- Is located in an individual’s upper thighs, buttocks, or lower back;
- Comes and goes, which may be severe or nagging and may last for a few days or a few months;
- Feels worse when sitting down and better when moving or walking;
- Feels worse when bending, lifting, or twisting; and
- Gets better when changing positions or lying down.
Can I Recover Damages for Degenerative Disc Disease?
If an individual is suffering from degenerative disc disease as a result of a personal injury accident, they may be able to pursue a compensatory damages award for their injuries. These damages are intended to restore an injured plaintiff to the position they were in before the loss or harm occurred.
In general, there are two categories of compensatory damages awards. One category, special damages, includes damages that can be calculated and are intended to restore the plaintiff to the position they were in before the incident, including:
The second category, general damages, is typically awarded for losses that are not easily calculated, including:
A plaintiff who is suffering from degenerative disc disease may be able to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the reason for their condition. If that is the case, they may be able to recover damages. One common example of how this may occur is a medical misdiagnosis of the patient’s back condition.
Another possible cause of action would be the improper administration or prescription of medicines or other pharmaceutical errors. If an individual has degenerative disc disease as a result of on-the-job factors, they may be able to make a workers’ compensation claim.
In many instances, these types of cases will settle outside of the courtroom. The average settlement for degenerative disc disease injury will vary depending on the extent of the injuries and the possible liability of the physician or other medical entities involved in the case.
What Are Medical Misdiagnosis Claims?
A medical misdiagnosis claim arises when a physician fails or delays in properly diagnosing a patient. This misdiagnosis may result in injury to the patient or a further and unnecessary progression of the disease. If so, the patient may be entitled to make a legal claim against their physician.
- Medical misdiagnosis claims are also personal injury claims that may involve the failure to properly diagnose a condition or an incorrect diagnosis of the patient’s condition. Medical misdiagnosis claims usually also involve medical malpractice. This can result in injury, financial loss, or long-term disease.
The parties who may be held liable in medical misdiagnosis cases may include:
- Doctors, physicians;
- Hospital staff;
- Medical institutions, for example, when the institution has unsatisfactory diagnosis policies and procedures.
Misdiagnosis claims are governed by medical malpractice and negligence laws. In order for a plaintiff to prove their physician is liable, they must show:
- The medical professional or entity owed a duty of care to the patient;
- They breached their duty;
- That breach was the actual cause of the patient’s injuries; and
- Those injuries resulted in quantifiable damages that could be remedied through a monetary damages award.
- An injured plaintiff may be entitled to reimbursement for their medical costs, treatment, and medications associated with the misdiagnosis.
In addition, the patient may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and other damages associated with the misdiagnosis. It is important to be aware that the most difficult part of obtaining legal remedies in these cases is proving that the physician’s misdiagnosis was the actual cause of the patient’s injury.
This is especially true in cases that involve degenerative disc disease. However, if a patient clearly suffered measurable injuries as a result of the misdiagnosis, they will most likely be successful in obtaining monetary damages.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Degenerative Disc Disease Lawsuit?
You may believe that your degenerative disc disease was the result of misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis. If so, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will advise you of your legal rights and options according to the laws of your state.
Your lawyer can advise you on what types of compensation you may be entitled to, as well as the best way to pursue that compensation. It is important to be aware, especially if you are suing a physician or medical establishment that these entities typically have lawyers on staff to defend them against lawsuits.
Because of this, the difficulty of proving fault, and the complex medical evidence that must be presented, it is essential to have a lawyer. In addition, many of these types of cases are settled outside of the courtroom, so your lawyer will represent you during any settlement negotiations to ensure you receive a fair amount of compensation.