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In this case, the claimant was replacing a water pump on a municipal bus.  He reached out with his arms extended to grasp an odd-shaped, 60 pound pump.  This awkward maneuver was done from a squatting position.  As a result, claimant’s left arm went numb and he lost his ability to hold the pump.  Claimant hired Law Offices of Douglas Rallo to file a workers compensation claim. 

Medical testing revealed that this maneuver resulted in a C5-C6 cervical disk herniation.  What is a herniated disk?

The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by round, flat, soft discs. Some doctors describe them as having the appearance and consistency of raw crab or shrimp.  When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. If they become damaged, they may bulge abnormally or break open (rupture), in what is called a herniated or slipped disc. Herniated Discs can occur in any part of the spine, but are most common in the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) spine. The seven vertebrae between the head and the chest make up the cervical spine.

Once claimant’s medical problem was diagnosed, he underwent surgery for a discectomy and spinal fusion.  In the discectomy, the surgeon removes the herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord.  Before the disc material is removed, a small piece of bone (the lamina) from the affected vertebra may be removed. This is called a laminotomy or laminectomy and allows the surgeon to better see and access the area of disc herniation.

A spinal fusion (arthrodesis) is a surgical procedure that joins, or fuses, two or more vertebrae. Spinal fusion is major surgery, usually lasting several hours. There are different methods of spinal fusion:  1) Bone is taken from the pelvic bone or obtained from a bone bank. The bone is used to make a bridge between adjacent vertebrae. This bone graft stimulates the growth of new bone.  2) Metal implants are secured to the vertebrae to hold them together until new bone grows between them.

The goal of these procedures is to remove the herniated portions of the discs, and to stabilize the spine.

While the surgery is unusually successful, complications can arise in the future because 2 vertebrae have been immobilized.  This puts extra stress on the areas of the spine above and below the operative site.  Overtime, this stress causes accelerated wear -and tear, which may result in surgery on these adjacent disks.

For questions on your case, please call Douglas Rallo at 847-816-8780.

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