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Can a Slip-and-Fall Cause a Herniated Disc?

Mar 22, 2024
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A slip-and-fall accident might not just leave you bruised and sore; it could disrupt your spinal health, causing a herniated disc. Learn more about what a herniated disc is and what to do if you suspect you have one.

Millions of people experience slip-and-fall accidents every year in America. It’s a funny and mostly harmless anecdote for some people, but for many others, it results in a visit to the emergency room. 

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, over 8 million emergency room visits are caused by falls. 

While the pain and soreness of a fall are easy to shake off with the help of some over-the-counter painkillers, many long-term health conditions that affect your spine may result from the accident. One common condition is a herniated disc

At HAAS Spine & Orthopaedics in Glendale, Santa Ana, and Upland, California, Dr. Stepan Kasimian has seen many patients come in with herniated discs caused by slip-and-fall accidents, providing him with extensive experience in treating the condition and protecting your spine’s health. 

Here, he helps you better understand how herniated discs occur and how even a small slip could cause this painful condition. 

What is a herniated disc?

Your spine is made up of vertebrae, each of which is separated by discs that act as shock absorbers. These discs have a tough outer layer and a soft, gel-like center. 

A herniated disc occurs when this gel-like center pushes out through a tear in the outer layer. This can irritate the nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, or weakness.

How can slip-and-falls cause a herniated disc?

When you slip and fall, the shock of the impact of your body hitting the floor can put sudden and intense pressure on your spine. In some cases, the impact could cause a vertebral disc to herniate.

The impact can force the gel-like center of these discs, known as the nucleus pulposus, out of the outer layer, which may already be torn or weakened, especially if your spine is twisted or bent during the fall. 

While not every fall results in a herniated disc, of course, the risk increases if the fall is from a significant height or onto a hard surface, or if you’ve already had issues with your spine. 

Anything from tumbling down a flight of stairs to slipping on a wet surface can cause a herniated disc.

Symptoms to note

The symptoms of a herniated disc depend on where it is on your spine. If it’s in your lower back, you’re likely to experience sharp pain that radiates from your lower back to your buttocks and down your leg. 

With other parts of your spine, you may also experience pain radiating through your arms, numbness, muscle weakness, and, in some places, loss of balance. If you notice any of these symptoms, book a consultation with Dr. Kasimian as soon as you can. 

Early diagnosis and treatment of herniated discs help prevent further, potentially debilitating complications.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you suspect you have a herniated disc after a slip-and-fall, it’s crucial to get urgent medical care. At HAAS Spine & Orthopaedics, we use a combination of physical examinations, medical history analysis, and imaging tests (such as MRI or CT scans) to diagnose the condition accurately.

Treatment options vary depending on your symptoms and the severity of your herniation. They can range from conservative methods like physical therapy and medication to more advanced options, including injections or surgery. 

While accidents happen, wearing shoes with good traction can reduce your risk of a slip-and-fall and potentially a herniated disc. 

You should also keep your workplace and living spaces free of hazards that could make you slip or trip. When going up stairs, use handrails, and finally, stay physically active to maintain your strength and balance. 

Slip-and-fall accidents can have lasting repercussions on your spinal health, potentially leading to herniated discs. However, understanding the risks and symptoms can help you know when to seek timely care, minimizing the impact on your life. 

If you’ve taken a significant tumble recently, request an appointment with us online or call us at 818-500-9286 today.