Pain Management for Car Accident Injuries
Our Jacksonville personal injury lawyers routinely handle cases in which our clients require pain management for car accident related injuries. “Managing” pain is what happens when someone suffers a serious and painful injury that cannot be corrected by medications, therapy or surgery.
Most often, pain management is required in cases of spinal injury. These spinal injuries typically take the form of intervertebral disc bulges, disc herniations or facet joint disruption.
Disc injuries commonly happen during a vehicle crash when the neck or back is overextended or overflexed, or both. Disc injuries are typically diagnosed via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computer tomography (CT scans). This is because discs are soft tissues. Unlike bones, discs do not show up on x-rays.
Disc bulges and herniations can cause pain in several ways. First, the disc itself is innervated, meaning that it has a nerve supply. A tear in the outside portion of the disc (the “annulus”) can cause pain by itself. Furthermore, the material inside the disc (the “nucleus pulposis”) is a known chemical irritant that, once it leaves the confines of the disc and contacts the surrounding tissues, can cause pain, spasms and inflammation. Finally, a damaged disc can pinch or impinge on the spinal cord or a nerve root causing pain, numbness, paralysis and tingling into a person’s upper or lower extremities.
Pain management doctors often treat painful disc injuries with cervical epidural steroid injections. Epidurals involve the penetration of the spinal canal for the injection of pain and steroidal medications to the site of the herniated or bulging disc. Epidurals can provide relief for six to nine months; however, the pain usually returns.
Facet joint injuries are also very painful. Each vertebra has a bony “spinous process” which connects with the vertebra above and below it forming the facet joints. Facet joints can be injured in car accidents causing severe pain. Unfortunately, facet joints are very small and facet joint injuries are difficult to diagnose through imaging. Instead, “diagnostic nerve blocks” are performed to determine if the facet joint is injured.
A nerve block involves injecting numbing medication to the nerves at the site of the facet joint. If the person experiences relief from the nerve block, it is likely that the facet joint is injured. The numbing agent used for the diagnostic nerve block only works for a short while. If the block was effective, radiofrequency ablations are typically used to deaden or sever the nerve so that pain is no longer transmitted to the brain. Radiofrequency ablations usually last between six and twelve months before the nerve regenerates and begins transmitting pain again.
Because epidurals and radiofrequency ablations only work for a limited time, it is important that your Jacksonville personal injury attorney hire an expert who can calculate the cost of future procedures. The future costs can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Of course, pain management doctors also have a host of medications that can be used including: opiate pain-relievers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone; non-opiate pain relievers, such as Tramadol; muscle relaxers; and anti-inflammatories.
The clients served by our Jacksonville personal injury lawyers often require pain management for injuries suffered in car accidents. When we perceive that a case is likely to go to trial, we have pain management procedures videotaped so that a jury can understand the invasive nature of the procedures. Video footage provides graphic evidence that is strong proof that the person is suffering serious pain as no one would unnecessarily subject themselves to these types of procedures.
If you have questions about pain management procedures or if you would like the names of excellent pain management doctors here in Jacksonville, please call our office for a free consultation. Our injury lawyers handle cases throughout the greater Jacksonville area.