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PA Slip/Trip & Fall Accidents - Internal Disc Disruption, A Serious Back Injury (Part 1)

One common type of personal injury accident in Pennsylvania is a slip, trip and fall accident.  A Philadelphia pedestrian may trip over an uneven sidewalk in Center City, or a PA resident in Montgomery County may slip and fall on ice in a residential neighborhood.  Another example of a fall accident is when someone falls down a flight of stairs. 

A slip and fall or trip and fall accident can result in serious and permanent injuries.  One common injury from a slip and fall or trip and fall accident is a back injury.  Some may sustain bulging discs, while others may sustain herniated discs.  One of the more serious back injuries from a slip and fall or a trip and fall accident is internal disc disruption (IDD).

Related fall down stairway accident case result - $900,000 recovery for a fall down accident at a hotel in Pennsylvania.

What Is Internal Disc Disruption?

The human spine consists of 24 bones, called vertebrae. Between each vertebra is a “shock absorber,” called intervertebral disc. These round, flat round “cushions” help absorb pressure and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other.  Each disc has an outer ring of fibers called the annulus and a soft, jelly-like center called nucleus pulposus. The annulus is the strongest part of the disc and helps keeps the center of the disc intact.

Trauma, such as falling down a flight of stairs, can damage and weaken the annulus. This can cause the disc to collapse or to lose water content and become brittle. The annulus cracks, tears or is “disrupted,” which creates pathways for the degenerated nucleus material to leak onto nerve fibers located in the outer edges of the annulus.

In many cases the nucleus material leaks completely through the disc and onto the adjacent spinal nerves.

Symptoms of Internal Disc Disruption

The nucleus material contains high levels of inflammatory substances which cause pain when they come in contact with the nerves. Damage to the annulus can cause chronic low back pain without disc herniation and nerve root compression. IDD causes pain in the lower back and may radiate down into the legs. Pain is increased by bending forward and/or sitting.  This pain is called “discogenic pain” because the pain comes from the disc itself. 

Continue to part 2 of this article which discusses how IDD can be misdiagnosed and its implications in a personal injury fall down case.

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