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Facet Joint Injury From a Car Accident - Settlement Guidance & More

Facet joint syndrome is a little-known debilitating medical condition that often causes excruciating pain for car accident victims. Facet joints are small joints located in-between the individual vertebrae in your spine. They are the primary reason that your spine is flexible, and we would not be able to bend or move as easily without facet joints. 

How are Facet Joint Injuries Diagnosed? 

Facet joint syndrome involves a significant level of pain and swelling at the joint between two vertebrae in your back, also referred to as osteoarthritis. Car accident trauma is a leading contributor to facet joint syndrome. If your back experiences physical trauma in a crash, you may be at risk of developing arthritis within the area of the damaged tissue. 

Facet joints are coated with a small amount of low friction cartilage. A tiny sack surrounds each joint. This provides sticky lubrication for each joint, and each of these sacks is surrounded by many nerve fibers. These nerve endings send a painful signal to the brain when the facet joint becomes displaced or irritated.

How do Facet Joint Injuries Occur?

It is likely you have landed on this page because you or someone you know suffered a facet joint injury in a car accident. That’s not uncommon. 

A motor vehicle accident can cause a number of cervical or lumbar facet joint injuries. These ailments should not be taken lightly. Consult with a medical professional if you believe you are suffering from any of these injuries.

Football players that take a big hit can also sustain facet joint injuries, as well as older people with significant wear and tear on their bodies. 

Is Facet Joint Pain Permanent?

The answer to this question relies on the individual facts of your injury, but generally there are treatments that can permanently solve facet joint pain. 

A new cutting-edge technology called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) is an image-guided, noninvasive way to deaden the nerve at each facet joint that is causing pain. Rather than use needles or probes and physically go into the spinal cord, MRgFUS uses sound waves to treat the injury at the source.

According to Sterling Medical Group, MRgFUS therapy can be summed up by two elements:

  1. The wavelength of the MRgFUS acoustic energy is different, and
  2. MRgFUS sound waves come from many different angles and when they meet, heat is created at that point.

Facet Joint Injury Settlements

You will rarely see a facet joint injury show up on an X-ray or MRI. When a patient is suffering from headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder pain, etc., following a car accident, physicians may assume these symptoms are related to a facet joint injury. 

Those who suffer a facet joint injury in a car accident usually require chiropractic treatment and/or physical therapy. A back brace or neck brace may be required to straighten the spinal column and get things back in working order. 

If those treatments don’t work, a physician may recommend spinal fusion surgery.

There is, however, a negative stereotype when it comes to facet joint injuries and other ailments from car accidents that don’t show up on medical imaging. Whiplash injuries, including facet joint injuries, are soft-tissue injuries that are hard to prove. 

Even though you and your attorney know that your pain is real, it may be difficult to garner sympathy from the insurance company, judge or jury. These are very real injuries that should be taken seriously, so don’t let the stereotype deter you from pursuing compensation after an accident.

Below is a list of other settlements involving an accident victim with a facet joint injury:

  • A car accident victim with whiplash, facet pain, daily headaches, blurred vision, numbness in her hands and fingers, memory issues, and multilevel disc protrusions in the cervical spine received a $118,500 settlement.
  • A client injured in a crash with a drunk driver received $121,033 in settlement money. The client suffered a long list of injuries, including aggravation of a degenerative spinal condition — including facet joint syndrome.
  • A driver rear-ended by a drunk driver received $146,148 in settlement funds, money used to alleviate medical bills for a lumbar sprain and strain, as well as a facet joint injury.

What Causes Facet Joint Hypertrophy?

Unlike your standard facet joint injury, facet joint hypertrophy is a condition in which the facet joints of the spine become enlarged. With age, joints degenerate and may become enlarged, causing pain and symptoms such as stiffness, numbness, and deformity. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common cause of facet joint hypertrophy. The arthritis causes the lining of facet joints to be inflamed or swollen. 

Facet Joint Injuries after a Car Accident

One of the most common causes of sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is a fall or car accident. These events damage the SI joints and surrounding ligaments, sending pain signals to the brain. Activities such as running and other physically demanding sports can also cause SI joint pain.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident and are curious about your legal rights, call our team of Seattle car accident lawyers at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to request a free case review. The legal team at Davis Law Group will help you navigate the claims process and determine if hiring a lawyer would be in your best interests. 

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.

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