Lumbar herniated disc is the most common workers compensation injury that we handle in our practice. Although people often refer to a disc herniation as a slipped disc, the disc doesn’t actually slip out of place. Rather, the term herniation means that the material at the center of the disc has squeezed out of its normal space. This condition mainly affects people between 30 and 40 years old.
What parts of the spine are involved?
The human spine is formed by 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to form the spinal column. The spinal column gives the body its form. It is the body’s main upright support. The section of the spine in the lower back is known as the lumbar spine.
The lumbar spine is made up of the lower five vertebrae. Doctors often refer to these vertebrae as L1 to L5. These five vertebrae line up to give the low back a slight inward curve. The lowest vertebra of the lumbar spine, L5, connects to the top of the sacrum, a triangular bone at the base of the spine that fits between the two pelvic bones. Some people have an extra, or sixth, lumbar vertebra. This condition doesn’t usually cause any particular problems.
Intervertebral discs separate the vertebrae. The discs are made of connective tissue. Connective tissue is the material that holds the living cells of the body together. Most connective tissue is made of fibers of a material called collagen. These fibers help the disc withstand tension and pressure.
A disc is made of two parts. The center, called the nucleus, is spongy. It provides most of the disc’s ability to absorb shock. The nucleus is held in place by the annulus, a series of strong ligament rings surrounding it. Ligaments are connective tissues that attach bones to other bones.
Healthy discs work like shock absorbers to cushion the spine. They protect the spine against the daily pull of gravity. They also protect it during strenuous activities that put strong force on the spine, such as jumping, running, and lifting.
At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin we see work-related herniated discs caused by single traumatic accidents brought on by lifting, bending or twisting. However, we also encounter herniated discs from physical job duties over time. IME doctors generally discount and deny the work or job duties connection, but we disregard the IME opinion and focus on what your doctor’s opinions are concerning causation and permanency due to lumbar herniated discs. For an attorney to get the most workers compensation benefits he or she should have a working knowledge of spine anatomy including the disc segments.