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Options for North Carolina workers with herniated cervical discs

A herniated cervical disc occurs when there is a crack in the disc that pads the vertebrae of the spine. Vertebrae provide a protective shield for the delicate spinal cord, keeping it safe from damage. The nerves of the spinal cord travel throughout the rest of the body to facilitate the neural impulses that allow the brain to control the body. Any pressure or damage to these nerves may lead to pain and tingling sensations.

Each vertebrae is connected to a disc by two small facet joints that hold the disc in place. The disc itself is made of durable connective tissue and covered in a hard outer shell. The inside of the disc is filled with nucleus pulposus, a gel-like liquid that cushions the individual vertebrae from harsh impact. Spinal discs act as shock absorbers, while the facet joints allow comfortable rotation and bending of the neck and back.

When the hard outer layer of a cervical disc is broken, the fluid inside can leak out, leading to a herniated disc. Over time, the disc loses more fluid and falls off center, putting pressure on the nerves extending from the spinal cord. This condition may result in numbness, tingling, pain and weakness in the arms and shoulders.

North Carolina workers who have suffered a herniated cervical disc as the result of a workplace injury may be eligible for workers' compensation. Workers' compensation requires only that the accident take place while on the job or on the premises, even if the employer is not directly at fault. In cases where negligence on part of a non-employer third party contributed to the accident, a lawyer may advise the worker on how to potentially retrieve compensation.

Source: North American Spine Society, "Herniated Cervical Disc", October 28, 2014

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