What Do That Mean?

September 16, 2022 / 1:23 pm

Did a doctor ever give you a diagnosis and you had no idea what it meant? Its frustrating communicating with someone and not knowing what the other is saying. Clients meeting with personal injury attorneys often hear words like "whiplash" or "soft tissue injury." But what do these mean? To help you, we have put together some of the more commonly used terms:

Back injuries – injuries to the spine and surrounding soft tissues – are common following a motor vehicle accident or other traumatic event. Though these injuries can be quite painful, it can be difficult to describe the source of your pain with particularity. Spinal anatomy is complicated and the terminology associated with back injuries can be confusing. Here, we will answer some common questions about spine and soft tissue injuries, to help you communicate more effectively with your doctor, the insurance company and your personal injury lawyer.

What is a “soft tissue” injury?

A soft tissue injury is an injury to the soft tissues of the body – the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Ligaments are the strong, fibrous tissues that connect one bone to another; tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. When a ligament is stretched or torn, this is called a “sprain.” When a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn, this is called a “strain.”

What is a spinal disc?

A spinal disc (also called an “intervertebral disc”) is a flat, round or oval structure that sits between two spinal vertebrae (the bones of the spine). The discs serve as padding between the vertebrae and work like shock absorbers. Each disc has a tough outer membrane and a softer core.

What is a “herniated” disc?

“Herniated disc” is term used to describe a disc with an asymmetrical bulge. The bulge occurs when the disc core leaks outside the perimeter of the disc (think of the jelly oozing out of a jelly donut).

What is a “bulging” disc?

The term “bulging” disc refers to a symmetrically expanded disc – that is, one in which the disc core material leaks around the entire circumference of the disc.

What is disc “degeneration”?

Over time, a disc may degenerate and shrink (lose height), due in part to the natural process of aging. Although an auto accident or other traumatic event does not cause degeneration, a traumatic event can cause a disc herniation, which ultimately may result in degeneration.

What is a facet joint injury?

A joint is where two bones meet. The joints in the spine are called facet joints. The facet joints allow the bones of the spine to glide smoothly through a range of motions. Injury to the facet joint will result in the joint becoming stiff, swollen, and tender.

How can a soft tissue injury cause nerve damage?

A soft tissue injury or spinal injury can result in permanent and painful nerve damage if swelling caused by the primary injury (e.g., a herniated or bulging disc) causes compression on the nerve.

What is “whiplash”?

“Whiplash” is the word commonly used to describe a neck sprain or strain caused by a sudden, rapid and exaggerated stretching of the soft tissues of the neck. Most people associate “whiplash” with neck pain and headaches, but whiplash-related trauma can be much more extensive and severe.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury or “TBI” is an injury to the brain that results in physical, intellectual, emotional and social impairments. You do not have to hit your head to sustain a TBI. The severe movement of the head and neck during a whiplash can cause the brain to hit the back of the skull, rebound, and hit the front of the skull. This impact can be significant enough to cause the soft tissue of the brain to bruise, swell or tear. A mild traumatic brain injury may resolve in a matter of days or weeks, but a more severe injury may result in permanent brain damage.

If you have questions about any aspect of your injury claim – medical, legal, or insurance-related – we can help you find the answers you need. If you are ready to consult with a personal injury lawyer, please call us.