What Can Happen Following A Prescription or Pharmacy Error?

Because the average person knows so little about the complicated chemistry of prescription medication, most of us rely fully on our pharmacist to oversee our prescriptions and our health.

Unfortunately, the professionals we rely on sometimes fail us. Each year, 1.5 million people across the U.S. are injured after receiving the wrong medication or dose, or unknowingly taking prescriptions that should not be mixed together.

Minneapolis personal injury lawyers Steve Terry, Chuck Slane, Rich Ruohonen, and Nate Bjerke are prepared to represent victims of a variety of medication errors, including:

Incorrect Dosage Errors

Prescription drugs save countless lives every year. Unfortunately, prescription drug misuse and errors contribute to 1.5 million injuries every year. One of the more common prescription drug errors involves giving patients the wrong dose. Whether the dose a patient receives is too high or too low, the consequences can be severe.

Reasons for Dosage Errors

A dosage error can occur when a pharmacist misunderstands the dosage that a customer should receive, or when a pharmacist mistakenly gives a customer pills of the wrong strength. Commonly cited reasons for these errors include:

  • The difficulty of reading handwritten prescriptions
  • Overworked or distracted pharmacists
  • Different pills that strongly resemble each other
  • Typing errors

Pharmacists should not be allowed to hide behind these excuses. They should have to take responsibility for their mistakes.

Consequences of Dosage Errors

Any kind of dosage error can take a toll on a patient’s health. The consequences will vary depending on the drug and the patient, but some of the more dangerous problems that can be caused by drug labeling errors include:

  • Progression of the initial condition (if under-dosed)
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Severe psychological reactions
  • Accidental death

Unexpected Drug Side Effects

Drug companies are expected to clearly report all potential side effects of the medications they produce. Additionally, doctors and pharmacists are required to educate patients about side effects they may experience, especially if the patient is on more than one medication. If not properly informed, patients may find themselves dealing with unexpected, life-threatening complications.

The side effects experienced will vary depending on the drug taken, the dosage, and personal factors about individual patients that are hard to predict. Any patient who is taking a new drug should keep in close contact with a medical professional and immediately report any unexpected side effects.

Failure to Educate

Drug side effects can hurt patients both physically and psychologically. Certain steps must be taken to minimize these risks, including:

  • thorough testing before the drug is released
  • full disclosure of test results
  • education for doctors and pharmacists about side effects and drug interactions
  • clear explanations for patients about potential complications

Unfortunately, all four of these steps at times are overlooked by drug companies, hospitals, and other members of the medical communities. The ones who pay for these oversights are the patients who unknowingly take dangerous drugs.

Medication Complications

Prescription drugs have complicated interactions with the chemicals of the human body. Those interactions can be difficult to predict. Of course, the more drugs a person is taking at the same time, the more complex and potentially harmful can be the interaction. This is precisely why doctors and pharmacists are expected to be fully educated about drug interactions and prescription side effects. They are also expected to present their patients with clear information about these issues.

Who Is Responsible for Drug Complications?

The blame for pharmaceutical errors can lie with different parties, depending on the circumstances. To list a few common examples of mistakes medical workers make:

  • Pharmacists can fail to inform clients about the dangers of combining certain drugs, or using substances like alcohol while on certain drugs.
  • Drug companies can release dangerous drugs without properly educating doctors and patients about the risks involved.
  • Doctors and pharmacists can do a poor job keeping track of patients’ medical histories, including drugs they are already taking. This can cause them to prescribe drugs that a certain patient should not use due to drugs they are already taking.

Incorrect Prescriptions

Receiving the correct diagnosis for a condition can involve a good deal of time, but it is only the first step in achieving good health. Next, the problem must be treated adequately according to the best information available. Unfortunately there are many things that can go wrong at this stage, such as receiving the wrong prescription for a particular problem.

Causes of Incorrect Prescriptions

Injuries caused by prescription drug errors can be traced back to many causes, including:

  • Emergency room workers giving the wrong drugs, or drugs that patients are allergic to
  • Pharmacists making mistakes while filling prescriptions
  • Doctors prescribing drugs based on incorrect or incomplete information about patients
  • Wrong diagnosis
  • Poor administration of drugs in hospitals

While the mistakes listed above could seem understandable in some cases, they are not excusable. All medical workers have a duty to keep their patients safe, and to do everything they can to restore the patient to health. Failing to meet this duty is negligent.

Incorrect Prescription Consequences

If you have been injured by a wrong prescription, you understand the complications. You may be facing staggering medical bills, missed work, chronic pain, and new disabilities. You may have even lost a loved one to a prescription error.

If you or a member of your family is facing these terrible consequences, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. You could potentially win compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related expenses.

Incorrect Labelling

Unfortunately, that is only half the story. Once complete information has been distributed to pharmacists, they are in charge of printing labels for prescription bottles that contain important details for patients. These details include:

  • The name of the drug, strength of dosage, and a description of its appearance
  • Instructions on what dose to take and how often
  • Warnings about substances and activities to be avoided while on the drug

Dangerous Mistakes

Prescription errors can occur at any point when a pharmaceutical company is distributing information about a new drug. Some of the more grievous mistakes that can occur include:

  • Side effects that are not named in the literature
  • Incorrect information about the drug’s safety for different populations
  • A lack of information about interaction with other drugs
  • An error or typo on the label given to patients

These errors and others like them can cause serious complications, including psychological problems, stroke, seizures, and even death.

What Can I Do?

If you or a loved one has been injured by the mistakes of a negligent pharmacist, you do not have to suffer quietly. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can help you recover the money you have lost to past and future medical expenses related to your injury, as well as any wages you lost after taking time off to recover. You may also receive compensation for your pain and suffering. More importantly, you can hold negligent health care workers responsible for their careless errors.

For more information about medical malpractice suits, contact Minnesota pharmacy error attorneys of TSR Injury Law at (612) TSR-TIME or submit our contact form. Our attorneys are experts at proving liability.

Permanent Disability Claims in MN

An accident that results in a permanent disability is one of the scariest experiences a family can go through. You are thankful for life, but there is fear for the future.

Whatever your diagnosis, we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve to cover medical expenses and other damages. Our partners are skilled, aggressive personal injury lawyers and well-known for their ability to litigate complex medical cases. Call 612-TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form. We want to hear from you.

Types of Permanent Disability

There are many types of injuries that qualify as permanent disability. Contact a Minnesota Permanent Disability Attorney if you have suffered a permanent disability from:

Hearing Loss

Hearing loss in a car accident can occur from direct trauma or from an air bag explosion. Loss of consciousness with a head injury can also lead to lost hearing.

There are two types of hearing loss:

  • conductive
  • sensorineural

Conductive hearing loss stems from a mechanical problem in the external or middle ear. Conductive hearing loss can be reversible. Sensorineural hearing loss stems from damage or dysfunction of the inner ear. It cannot be restored. Very often sensorineural hearing loss is from a traumatic injury.

Traumatic hearing loss can occur when the inner ear or temporal lobes are damaged by the head hitting the steering wheel or window in a car accident. It can also be caused by an air bag explosion, which can be so intense that it ruptures the eardrum and can cause bleeding from the inner ear. When the eardrum is ruptured, the fragile bones of the middle ear can be dislocated and major inner ear damage can occur.

Permanent Disability Compensation

If you have sustained a permanent disability from an accident that was not your fault, you can file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your injuries. In addition to compensation for your disability, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • past and future medical expenses related to your injury
  • lost wages
  • loss of earning capacity
  • pain and suffering

Amputated Limbs

The loss of any part of your body is traumatic. Although it doesn’t change who you are, it changes your spirit and your emotions. Many traumatic accidents destroy blood vessels, leading to tissue death. As a result, infection can set-in; and if not treated aggressively, can spread through the body and jeopardize life. The medical team will strive to save the limb by replacing or repairing damaged blood vessels and tissue. However, if these measures do not work, amputation is necessary. 22% of all amputations are trauma related.

With a traumatic amputation injury, the surgeon will remove the fragmented bone and any compromised tissue, a process called debridement. (This is performed on burn injuries, too.) The uneven areas of the bone will have to be smoothed to prevent pain with artificial limb usage. In some cases, temporary drains will be put in place to drain blood and other fluids that may accumulate.

At the time of limb amputation, the muscles are divided and shaped to ensure that the stump has a comfortable contour for the prosthesis. The nerves are also divided and protected in an effort to minimize pain.

Causes of Limb Amputation

Traumatic limb amputations occur in a variety of situations, including:

There are some additional risks and complications with limb amputation injuries, including:

  • phantom pain
  • chronic neuroma
  • infection
  • inadequate wound healing
  • stiffness
  • joint deformity (contracture)
  • a severe bruise (hematoma)
  • death of the skin flaps (necrosis)

Limb Amputation Compensation

The expenses associated with a limb amputation add up quickly and many of them are recurring. Our attorneys can file a claim to cover the following:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages
  • job retraining
  • medical equipment
  • prosthetics
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • psychological therapy

Spinal Injuries

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, there are more than 250,000 people in the United States living with a spinal cord injury. There are many more people that are living with other spinal injuries.

Types of Spinal Injury

Spinal injuries may include:

  • Burst Fractures
  • Compression Fracture
  • Herniated Disc
  • Facet Joint Injuries
  • Soft Tissue Injury
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Paraplegia
  • Back Injury
  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy (RFN) (treatment for facet joint injuries)
  • Spinal Fusion (treatment for herniated discs)
  • Laminectomy (treatment for spinal stenosis)

In addition to the pain and suffering these injuries can cause, they often require extensive, costly, and life-long medical treatments. If you are a victim of a spinal injury due to negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Causes of Spinal Damage

Spinal injuries are often caused by fully preventable accidents such as:

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Sports Injuries
  • Falls

Collisions involving automobiles are responsible for thousands of spinal injuries every year, including facet joint injuries (whiplash), vertebrae fractures, and paralysis.Whiplash is often thought of as a minor injury, but the truth is that severe cases can cause debilitating pain for months or years. The abnormal movements associated with whiplash may result in chronic neck pain, psychological problems, or even permanent disability.

Have Questions? Contact Us Today

It takes an experienced, aggressive Minnesota Personal Injury Attorney to successfully prove the debilitating nature of your injury and the associated costs — present and future. Our partners have been named Super Lawyers many times by Minnesota Law & Politics. Call (612) TSR-TIME or submit our contact form.

Minneapolis Birth Injury Lawyer

Giving birth was one of the most difficult experiences you have gone through, and you thought it would be one of the best. Unfortunately, your dream was shattered by a birth injury due to negligence. You are frightened for your baby’s future, confused by all of the medical terminology, and angry that the medical staff failed you. You need a compassionate and experienced team of attorneys working for justice for you and your baby.

Call a birth injury lawyer of TSR Injury Law at (612) TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form. Our partners are aggressive with them, but gentle with you.

Causes of Birth Injuries

Some birth injuries are caused by unavoidable conditions that develop for you or the child. For example, large infants (weighing over 8 lbs, 13 oz) are more likely than average-sized infants to sustain birth injuries. Premature infants and mothers with certain conditions are also at risk.

Some birth injuries are avoidable. Too often there is negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, or other health care workers — unnecessary intervention, failure to efficiently react to an emergency, incorrect use of medical equipment, and medication error can create long-lasting or even permanent damage.

Types of Birth Injuries

The most severe birth injuries generally involve internal damage, such as injuries caused to nerves or the brain. However, external injuries are not a matter to be taken lightly. They can lead to a variety of health complications for newborn babies — and a good deal of stress and expense for the parents.

External birth injuries can easily occur when the medical workers assisting with a birth fail to handle the infant with appropriate caution. Some of the more common examples include:

  • Scalp lacerations from forceps and vacuum extractions.
  • Scalpel cuts can occur accidentally during a C-section or episiotomy.
  • Bruising/abrasions can be caused by contact with the mother’s pelvic bone during an unusually prolonged or difficult birth.

The injuries generally require no more treatment than antibiotic ointment and bandages. However, they can lead to more serious conditions, including:

  • Blood loss
  • Infection
  • Scarring

Other types of birth injuries may include:


All bones, including the skull, have a tough covering called the periosteum. When the skull experiences sufficient force, blood vessels that nourish the periosteum can be torn. This causes a small pool of blood to form between the skull and the skin covering it. This is known as a cephalohematoma.

Causes and Consequences of Cephalohematoma

A cephalohematoma is almost always the result of a birth injury. It can happen any time the infant’s skull is placed under pressure during birth. The most common causes include:

  • Difficult births
  • The use of forceps during childbirth
  • Vacuum extractions

This injury causes a small, soft lump to form on the baby’s head. It usually resolves on its own within a few weeks or months. However, there are certain complications associated with cephalohematoma, such as:

  • An increased risk of jaundice within the first few days
  • A cyst formed over a skull fracture, which can be confused with cephalohematoma
  • Possible trauma to the brain beneath the cephalohematoma

If your child experiences health complications following this injury, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by damaged connections between the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. The cerebral cortex is the part of the forebrain that controls higher level functions such as abstract thought and language processing. The cerebellum controls balance and muscle coordination. In other words, people with this condition have an impaired ability to control their own movements and reflexes.

About 5% of cases of cerebral palsy are caused by birth injuries, with other cases being caused by injuries during pregnancy or after birth. Birth injuries that can cause or contribute to cerebral palsy include:

  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain)
  • Premature birth
  • Infection
  • Head trauma or brain hemorrhaging
  • Severe jaundice

Erb’s Palsy is also known as brachial plexus paralysis. Erb’s Palsy is usually a birth injury, sometimes difficult to prevent; however, in some cases, it is caused by an avoidable mistake on the part of OB-GYN medical staff.

Avoidable factors that can contribute to Erb’s palsy include:

  • Pulling an infant’s head to one side while the shoulder passes through the birth canal
  • Excessively pulling on the shoulders during childbirth
  • Incorrect handling of the infant, especially if it leads to a clavicle fracture

Epidural Injuries

An epidural injection is a form of injection to the epidural space of the spine used to provide temporary or prolonged pain relief. Epidurals are often used to alleviate the pain felt by a herniated or bulging disk, spinal stenosis as well as during child birth.

While an epidural injection is supposed to numb the pain it can sometimes cause the opposite effect and make things much worse. If you have experienced pain, paralysis or a serious medical condition after an epidural injection, then you may be looking at a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Epidural Injection Side Effects

There are several epidural injection side effects to be aware of if you are having an injection. This includes:

  • Temporary increase in pain
  • Headache
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infection at the injection site
  • Hot flashes
  • Rash
  • Bleeding if a blood vessel is damaged
  • Paralysis
  • Bowel and bladed dysfunction

More serious health complications that may arise after an epidural injection include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Nerve damage
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death
  • Epidural injection risks

While considered safe, an epidural injection must be administered by an experienced and highly qualified health professional. The slightest negligence or carelessness can result in serious health complications. Health professional must practice the four P’s when administering any epidural injection – preparation, position, projection and puncture.

Epidural injections involve an epidural anesthetic which is administered through a needle into your spinal column. The needle will puncture your spinal column and rests in the epidural space just outside the sac that contains the spinal cord. The drugs are then dispensed into this epidural space, blocking the sensation of pain.

Erb’s Palsy

The symptoms of Erb’s / brachial palsy may fade or they may eventually require medical intervention. The affected arm may present with one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of physical sensation
  • Muscle weakness, difficulty of movement
  • Stunted growth
  • Temperature control difficulties
  • Slowness in healing from wounds and infections

Children suffering from this condition may require surgery or some form of therapy. Even when these treatments are used, they are not always entirely successful. Some people live with the problems caused by Erb’s palsy for the rest of their lives.

Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis, also known as facial nerve palsy, is a birth injury that can result from misapplied pressure to an infant’s face immediately before or during birth. About 80% of cases of facial paralysis are idiopathic, meaning their cause is unknown. However, this condition can sometimes be traced back to certain complications during childbirth. Factors that can contribute to facial nerve damage include:

  • Large infant size
  • Use of medication to induce labor
  • Long or especially difficult labor
  • Use of forceps
  • Use of epidural anesthesia

Some of these factors cannot be reasonably predicted or controlled by medical staff. Others, however, could be avoided if proper medical decisions are made. An experienced Minnesota Facial Nerve Palsy attorney can help you choose the best response to the situation.

Symptoms and Prognosis

Facial nerve damage mainly affects the muscles around the lips. In more serious cases, other parts of the face can be affected. Symptoms include:

  • The mouth will not move the same way on both sides
  • Droopy eyelid on the affected side
  • There may not be any facial movement on the affected side in severe cases

Generally these symptoms resolve on their own over time. In more serious cases, the child may need some form of physical therapy or treatment. In a few rare cases, facial nerve palsy may be permanent.

Internal Injuries

Internal injuries are among the most serious that a person can suffer. This is especially true for newborn infants, whose skin, bones, and other tissues are more delicate than an adult’s. Although most OB-GYN workers are professionals who take extra care to protect babies during childbirth, serious injuries can still happen. Sometimes these injuries lead to lifelong complications for your baby.

Types of Internal Birth Injuries

Some of the dangerous internal injuries a child can suffer during birth include:

  • Bone fractures: Infants’ clavicles are especially vulnerable to injury during childbirth. Common causes of broken clavicles include breech deliveries and other complications during labor. A broken clavicle can lead to the formation of blood clots, a cyst, or other problems.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage: Bleeding within the brain, or between the brain and the skull, can be caused by excessive force to the head during childbirth. These injuries are rare, but the consequences are often severe; including seizures, respiratory problems, and heart problems.
  • Abdominal bleeding: Damage to the internal organs is one of the most severe birth injuries an infant can suffer. The most common organ damage involves the liver, a condition also known as hepatic rupture. This can lead to jaundice and other medical emergencies.

Newborn Infections

One of the first rules of maintaining a hospital is to keep every room and piece of equipment sterile. This is especially true in maternity wards. Newborn infants are more vulnerable to serious illnesses than adults or even older babies. Every well-informed new mother is aware of this risk, and should be able to trust her hospital to provide an adequately clean environment.

Infections to Look Out For

Some of the most common and dangerous infections among newborns include:

  • Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS): Bacteria that can be spread from the mother to the child, or from one infant to another. Can cause pneumonia, septic blood, or meningitis.
  • E. Coli: While harmless strains of this bacteria live in everyone, other strains can be deadly. An infant exposed to E. coli can develop severe diarrhea, fever, and even kidney failure.
  • Listeriosis: A disease caused by bacteria that is primarily found in newborns and people with compromised immune systems. If left untreated, it can damage the nervous system, heart, and brain.
  • Neonatal Sepsis: An invasive bacterial infection of the blood that premature babies are susceptible to because of their underdeveloped immune systems. If untreated can lead to death.

The early stages of almost any infection are similar in newborns: fever, listlessness, fussy, less vigorous sucking, and loss of appetite. If your infant begins showing these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.

Consequences of Newborn Brain and Spinal Damage

The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system, the hub of all bodily function. Newborns are especially vulnerable to brain and nerve damage. Brain damage in newborns can be caused by infection, oxygen deprivation, or head trauma. Difficult labors, large infant size, and the use of extraction devices can all contribute to the risk of head trauma during birth. Infant brain damage can have tragic consequences, including:

  • Mental retardation
  • Hearing and/or vision loss
  • Seizures
  • Emotional or behavioral disorders
  • Coma or death

Spinal injuries in newborns are more rare, but they can happen. Their primary cause is the infant being pulled too harshly or twisted during birth. Unfortunately, the majority of newborn spinal injuries occur at or near the neck level. Consequences of this kind of injury can include:

  • Quadriplegia
  • Inability to breathe without a ventilator
  • Impaired ability to regulate heart rate and/or body temperature

Living with any of these chronic conditions can be emotionally draining as well as financially overwhelming. This is why the law allows victims to file lawsuits to win fair compensation for expenses and suffering.

Who Is Responsible?

This is not always an easy question to answer. Some labors are difficult due to factors beyond the doctor’s control — these cannot be blamed on anyone. In other cases, healthcare providers have made poor choices that caused injury to the baby. If your child’s injury falls into the latter category, a Minnesota External Birth Injury Lawyer can inform you of your legal rights.

Contact a Minneapolis Birth Injury Lawyer

TSR Injury Law attorneys are compassionate, supportive, and have years of experience with Minnesota birth injury cases. Call (612) TSR-TIME today or submit our contact form. We will fight for justice.

Minneapolis Back Injury Lawyer

The spine is made up of a column of 33 vertebrae, and tissue extending from the skull to the pelvis. These vertebrae enclose and protect a cylinder of nerve tissues known as the spinal cord. Between each of the vertebra is an intervertebral disc that serves as a shock absorber between the vertebrae. The discs make up 25 percent of the length of the spinal column. The types of vertebrae are:

  • cervical vertebrae: the upper most seven vertebrae of the neck
  • thoracic vertebrae: the 12 bones between the neck and the lower back
  • lumbar vertebrae: the 5 largest and strongest vertebrae in the lower back
  • The other nine vertebrae are in the sacrum and coccyx, and located at the base of the spine. The sacrum is a section of 5 fused vertebrae, while the coccyx (tailbone) is four vertebrae fused together.

Most of the back injuries occur in either the cervical or lumbar regions. A back injury may be sustained in a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or slip and fall accident. There are many types of back injuries, including:

Bulging Disc Injuries

Many bulging disc injuries are from deceleration in a car accident when the spine is restrained and bent over the seat belt, many times at an angle. A bulging disc most often occurs in the lower back, but may occur in the neck.

When the spine is stressed and pulled out of place, it can put uneven pressure on the disc and cause irritation and damage. A bulging disc can protrude into the spinal canal causing pain and potentially long-term repercussions if the disc ruptures or becomes herniated.

The spine is critical to the overall health of the body. The discs keep the spine flexible, allowing twisting, bending, and basically all physical activity. The gel in the discs absorb the stress of all the body movement. When a disc bulges or compresses, it can cause narrowing of the spinal canal leading to limited, painful movement.

A bulging disc is less severe than a ruptured or herniated disc, but if it goes undiagnosed or untreated may lead to the more serious ruptured or herniated disc.

Bulging Disc Diagnosis & Treatment

An x-ray will not reveal anything about the health of the disc, but may be used to verify the health of the bones. A physical exam and MRI are the best ways to diagnose a bulging disc.

A bulging disc may heal with rest and physical therapy. If the bulging disc becomes more serious by rupturing, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the disc or the entire disc. At this point, they may replace the disc with a synthetic disc or fuse the segments to prevent movement and instability.

A back injury can be life-altering, leading to chronic or acute pain, as well as muscle weakness, lack of muscle coordination, numbness and/or tingling in the extremities.

(Chronic pain is defined as deep, aching, dull, burning pain that lasts a long time and is not relieved by standard types of medical management. Acute pain is a very sharp pain or a dull ache that can be intermittent, but is usually constant, and ranging in severity.)

Burst Fractures

A burst fracture is a spinal injury in which the vertebral body is severely compressed, sometimes to the point of shattering into surrounding tissue and the spinal canal. These fractures occur from extreme trauma, as in a car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident.

In a burst fracture, the edges (margin) of the vertebral body are fragmented and spread out in all directions. When the entire margin of the vertebral body is crushed, the spine loses its stability. The bony fragments can bruise the spinal cord causing loss of strength, sensation, and reflexes below the level of the injury. Burst fractures are categorized by:

  • the severity of the deformity
  • to what degree the fragments have invaded the spinal canal
  • the degree of vertebral height loss
  • the extent of neurologic injury

At the scene of the accident, if the victim complains of severe back pain they should not be put into a sitting position. If they stand or walk with a burst fracture, they may increase their neurologic injury.

To diagnose a burst fracture x-rays, CAT scan, and possibly an MRI will be needed to determine:

  • the level of the fracture
  • the type of fracture (compression, burst, or fracture dislocation)
  • the amount of spinal canal compromise
  • spinal angulation
  • the amount of soft tissue trauma
  • bleeding
  • ligament damage

Stable Burst Fracture

A stable burst fracture has little to no neurologic injury and the posterior column is uninjured and remains functional and can be treated without surgery. Treatment with a brace can be very effective. The brace is worn for 8-12 weeks to ensure adequate healing. Physical therapy will be prescribed once the brace is removed.

Unstable Burst Fracture

A burst fracture is ruled unstable if there is:

  • neurologic injury
  • angulation of the spine is greater than 20 degrees
  • there is dislocation of the spine
  • loss of more than 50% of anterior vertebral body height
  • there is greater than 30% spinal canal compromise

Unstable burst fractures do better with early surgery. A reduction maneuver may be performed to straighten the spine. Another treatment option is spinal fusion, with bone graft, to help injured vertebrae heal. Fragments pressing on the spinal canal, may be moved into a better position by a spinal laminectomy.

After any stabilizing surgery, some type of bracing is required for 8-10 weeks. Once the bracing is removed, physical therapy will be necessary to strengthen the trunk and lower extremities.

Compression Fractures

The spine is comprised of 24 vertebrae. The main section of each vertebra is a large, round segment called the vertebral body. A compression fracture causes the vertebral body to collapse in height on one side. Severe compression fractures, as can happen in vehicle accidents, can push fragments of bone into the spinal column and impinge upon the spinal cord. The resultant damage can be partial or complete paralysis from the point of fracture and below.

Compression Fracture Symptoms:

  • pain in the neck and back
  • sporadic pain in the hips, abdomen, or thighs
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • weakness
  • loss of control of bladder or bowels

Treatment of Compression Fractures

Some traumatic compression fractures can heal without surgery. The most common treatments are medication to control the pain, decrease daily activity, and bracing. The brace is molded to conform tightly to the body and supports the back, restricting movement. In addition to preventing the wearer from bending forward, the brace holds the spine in a hyper-extended state. This takes most of the pressure off the vertebral body, allowing it to heal.

Severe fractures may need surgery to stabilize the vertebrae adjacent to the fracture site. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications — and since you are dealing with the spine and spinal cord, they can be extremely serious. The complications include:

  • chronic pain
  • partial or total paralysis
  • the need for an additional surgery

Compression fractures take a minimum of 3 months to heal completely.

Facet Joint Injury

The spine is comprised of many facet joints. The design of the facet joint allows for bending and twisting of the back and neck. Additionally, there is a correlation between good facet joint health and body strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

Facet joint injury is the most common cause of neck pain after an accident and can result in neurological damage. There can be dislocation of the facet joint, accompanied by soft tissue swelling, tearing of a ligament, compression of the nerves, and disruption of blood supply.

Symptoms of Facet Joint Injuries

40% of the time there is a delay in the diagnosis of facet joint injury. They are initially diagnosed as soft tissue injuries, because they do not show up on x-rays or MRIs. The 2 sections of the spine that sustain most of the facet joint injuries are the neck and the lower back.

The symptoms of cervical (neck) facet joint injury are:

  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • upper back pain
  • shoulder pain radiating into the arms
  • sleep apnea
  • dizziness

The symptoms of lumbar (lower back) facet joint injury are:

  • low back pain
  • pain radiating into the buttocks, hips, thighs, and groin

Common Causes of Facet Joint Injury

Although some facet joint injuries are age-related, most of them are a result of trauma sustained in:

  • Car Accidents
  • Truck Accidents
  • Bicycle Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents
  • Pedestrian Accidents
  • Slip and Fall Injuries

Treatment of Facet Joint Injury

Conservative care options are as follows:

  • Chiropractic
  • Physical Therapy
  • Restraining Collar or Back Brace
  • Cervical Traction
  • Injections

Aggressive treatment options are:

  • Radiofrequency Neurotomy (RFN)
  • Spinal Fusion

Herniated Disc Injuries

A herniated disc is when the nerve root has been irritated or damaged. A herniated disc can cause neck pain, arm pain, back pain, and / or leg pain, depending on which segment of the spine is involved. A herniated disc may also be referred to as:

  • ruptured disc
  • bulging disc
  • slipped disc

About Herniated Discs

A herniated disc occurs when part of the spinal disc / pad breaks through its fibrous, cartilage covering and presses on the spinal nerve. Common causes for herniated discs:

  • sudden pressure put on the disc from a:
    • car accident
    • slip and fall accident
    • work-related accident
  • repetitive, strenuous action
  • improper lifting

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Left untreated, the consequences from a herniated disc can be very serious. Symptoms to be aware of:

  • lower back pain (more than routine ache)
  • weakness in leg
  • tingling or numbness in leg or buttocks
  • sciatica
  • burning neck pain
  • compromised bowel or bladder control

Ruptured Disc Injuries

The spine is literally the backbone of good health. The vertebrae are critical in the weight-bearing capacity of the spine and provide protection and support for the spinal cord — which is a bundle of nerves connecting the brain to the entire body, facilitating all movement and organ function.

Between every vertebrae is a small, gel-filled cartilage disc that provides a cushion between the segments of the spine. When the spine is damaged or stressed in a car accident or severe fall, the disc can rupture. A ruptured disc bulges out, sometimes irritating or pressing directly on a nerve. A ruptured disc (disk) may be referred to as a herniated disc, slipped disc, or a bulging disc.

Ruptured Disc Symptoms

The symptoms of a ruptured disc vary, but may include the following:

  • swelling
  • back pain
  • muscle weakness
  • tingling
  • decreased reflexes
  • pain radiating into a limb

In some cases, a spinal injury will interfere with bowel and bladder function. If that happens, seek immediate medical attention because this is not a normal ruptured disc symptom.

Types of Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Sprain: A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament. The ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bone to bone. The joints most often sustaining ligament damage in accidents are shoulders, wrists, knees, and ankles. The lumbar region of the spine can also sustain a sprain.
  • Strain: A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Tendons connect the muscles to the bones. The back, knees, and ankles account for most of the muscle / tendon strains in car accidents or work accidents.
  • Contusion: A contusion is a deep bruise, where blood pools around an injury. Left untreated, contusions can cause permanent damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
  • Subluxation: Subluxation is when you have misaligned vertebrae. When this happens it puts pressure on nerves, disrupts the signals to and from the brain, and interferes with the blood supply — which will allow deterioration of the surrounding tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

A blunt injury to soft tissue can produce localized tissue hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and acidosis (increased hydrogen). The integrity of the soft tissue needs to be determined prior to any surgery. An incision through compromised soft tissue can lead to wound breakdown and deep infection.

Treatment of Soft Tissue Injuries

The management and treatment of soft tissue injuries is basically the mnemonic “R-I-C-E”: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The injured tissue needs to be protected, in some cases splints, braces, or tape is recommended.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spine in one or more of the following areas:

  • space at the center of the spine
  • the canals where the nerves branch out from the spine
  • space between the vertebrae

The narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The symptoms of spinal stenosis may be subtle, appearing slowly over time and gradually getting worse. Signs of spinal stenosis include:

  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • shoulder pain
  • arm pain
  • numbness, weakness, cramping in arms or legs
  • lack of coordination
  • lack of balance when walking
  • bowel or bladder incontinence

Treatments of Spinal Stenosis

Sometimes spinal stenosis can be controlled without surgery. The nonsurgical treatments include:

  • medication to reduce swelling
  • medication to relieve pain
  • limit activity
  • physical therapy
  • back brace

If surgery is required for spinal stenosis, a laminectomy will be performed to ease the narrowing. During a laminectomy the surgeon removes part of the vertebrae and thickened tissue to relieve compression of the spinal cord and nerves.

Need Help? Contact Us Today

TSR Injury Law has obtained another large recovery in a back injury case. Steve Terry represented a driver of a commercial vehicle who was side swiped, causing his vehicle to hit a concrete median. The client required both neck and lower back surgery.

Contact our Minnesota Back Injury Lawyers at 612-TSR-TIME. We represent back injury victims in Albert Lea, Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, St. Paul, and the entire state of Minnesota.

Ph: (612) TSR-TIME