What is a 'Facet Joint' Injury?

The facet joints are located on each side of the spine where each vertebra connects with the one above and below it. Injuries to facet joints are among the most common handled by our Jacksonville car accident lawyers. These injuries can be very hard to detect as they do not appear on x-ray or MRI imaging. Because of this, people suffering facet joint injuries often go a long time before a proper diagnosis is made. Further, auto insurers are often skeptical that the person has suffered any injury at all, which often results in litigation.

Injuries to the spine as a result of a car or truck accident are usually caused by the sudden acceleration or deceleration to the body caused by the crash, resulting in hyperextension or hyperflexion, or both, of the spine. In hyperextension and hyperextension situations, the spine is bent to an abnormal degree in a split second, which prevents the spine from being able to absorb the impact without injury.

Facet joints are tiny which results in the difficulty in diagnosing injury to them with imaging. However, these tiny joints are very important and serve to stabilize the spine. Injuries to the facet joints cause chronic pain and muscle spasms.

Usually, pain management doctors will suspect facet joint injury after ruling out injuries to the intervertebral discs. MRIs do effectively demonstrate disc injuries. Furthermore, if an epidural steroid injection to the disc does not relieve the pain, the disc is less likely to be causing the pain.

In order to diagnose a facet joint injury, a doctor will perform injection of numbing medication into the joint. If the injection provides relief, the doctor can be confident that the source of the pain is the facet joint itself.

Thankfully, facet joint injuries can usually be effectively managed with radiofrequency ablations. Radiofrequency ablations, which are minimally invasive, use heat to sever the nerve that is generating pain from the joint. Frequently, the ablations result in immediate, and nearly complete, relief. Not only does this greatly benefit the injured client, but it also validates the reality of an injury as a person exaggerating injuries would not usually report near complete pain relief.

The downside to ablations is that the severed nerve regenerates itself in about six to nine months. This requires repeat procedures at six to nine month intervals for the remainder of a person’s life. This comes at an extraordinary expense. An inexperienced car accident attorney may not take these future damages into account resulting in an insufficient recovery. In contrast, our Jacksonville car accident lawyers know how to demonstrate the seriousness of facet joint injuries.

In numerous cases, we successfully resolved cases for car accident victims by hiring an expert witness called a life care planner to calculate these future losses. As examples, one case we handled involved a thirty-four year old man for whom the cost of future radiofrequency ablations exceeded $220,000.00. This assisted us in resolving his case for $600,000.00. Prior to filing suit, the insurer for the at-fault driver offered less than $15,000.00 to resolve his case.

Our attorneys accept car accident cases in Jacksonville and its surrounding areas on a contingency fee basis. This means you can hire us without incurring any up-front expense. You only pay us if we recover money for you.

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I was referred to Greg by a coworker after I received a bad injury from an auto accident and was so pleased with Greg, Amanda, and staff. They literally took care of everything for me while I was healing and kept me updated every step of the way. Calls and emails were always accepted and returned promptly and they were extremely patient and helpful with any questions and concerns that I had. Should I ever need legal assistance again I will definitely be calling him and referring him to family and friends. Amie M.
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