Annular Tears After A Car Accident
An annular tear develops in someone’s lower back, typically inside of the discs where the soft gel is located.
Each year millions of people in the United States of America are involved in car accidents. The reasons behind these accidents are numerous, but the injuries that result are traumatic.
Injuries to the back and spinal cord are amongst the most common following a car accident in California. When the injury is life-threatening or severe, the results can be devastating to both the victim and their family. One such type of spinal injury is an annular disc tear.
What is an Annular Disc Tear?
An annular tear can occur with simple old age or if there is too much stress placed on the disc by either the routine stresses of everyday life or by a traumatic event, such as a car accident in California.
When the strong outer layer of an intervertebral disc rips or tears it is known as an annular tear. The intervertebral disc is the strong ligament that connects one vertebra to the other. The shock-absorbing cushions between each vertebra are the discs. Each of these discs has a very strong outer ring of fibers known as the annulus fibrosus.
These discs play an important function in the back and neck. They provide support for the spinal column and help protect the discs.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal discs between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers to the spine, protecting the spine from trauma. Spinal discs are made up of four parts:
- The vertebral end-plate that is above and below the disc.
- The nucleus pulposus, the inner part of the disc made of soft cartilage.
- The annulus fibrosis, the outer shell of hard, fibrous cartilage, is flexible and allows movement and holds the vertebrae together.
- The nerves around the outer edge of the disc.
How To Identify Annular Tears
When a car accident trauma results in annular tears in the spinal discs, victims usually exhibit symptoms of pain in the back and the legs and pain that increases while sitting.
What Are Some Symptoms of An Annular Tear?
Some of the most common symptoms associated with this type of injury include:
- Weakness in arms and/or legs
- Back or neck pain
Many people find that the pain is worse when sitting compared to standing. When a person sneezes, coughs, or lifts an object, these positions can load pressure onto the disc and aggravate the symptoms.
Make sure to see a medical professional after an auto accident no matter how severe your injuries are. If you find that your back or neck pain increases in the days, weeks or even months after the accident, it is important that you keep a written record of your pain and symptoms. Having this documented will help your work with a car accident lawyer and with obtaining compensation from insurance.
Treatment Options Of An Annular Disc Tear
After a doctor comes to the conclusion of your injury of the annular disc tear by either MRI scan or discography test, they will likely be prescribed a physical therapy program along with some other medications.
Annular disc tears can take a long time to heal. Medical practitioners recommend the following treatments:
- physical therapy
- limited rest
- chiropractic treatment
- pain medication
- low-impact exercise
- epidural steroid injections
- anti-inflammatory medications
- hot/cold therapy
Most people find pain relief through these treatments over the course of weeks or a few months. However, if the pain continues, it may be wise to seek advice from a doctor who specializes in spine treatment.
Annual tears are a commonly suffered injury in brutal auto-accidents and often masquerade as persistent back and neck pain.
Every year, 20-50 million people suffer non-fatal injuries in auto accidents. Such injuries could range from mild to life-threatening in severity and from temporary to chronic in duration.
People in car crashes sustain serious injuries like whiplash, annular tears, broken limbs, paralysis or even chronic pain. Such injuries may cost a bomb in medical treatments and hospital bills which is why it is important to file a compensation claim against the at-fault party.
Call our expert personal injury lawyers in San Bernardino, California for a detailed guide to getting a fair compensation.
Now, let’s learn more about annular tears, their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
What is an annular tear?
The human spine is an S-shaped curve made up of 33 interlocking vertebrae connected by a thin disc of spongy cartilage.
The intervertebral disc consists of an outer ligamentous ring called annulus fibrosus, which encloses an inner gelatinous substance called nucleus pulposus.
The disc has a high water content due to which the spine enjoys increased flexibility and wide range of movement.
Though the spine has a natural shock-absorbing capacity, during sudden impact like car crashes, the disc is exposed to high amounts of pressure with no reaction time.
This increased pressure could cause the disc to break, lose water content and develop tears in the outer ring. These tears in the annulus fibrosus are termed as annular tears.
What are the symptoms of annular tears?
Annular tears can cause pain ranging from mild to severe depending on the nature of impact and point of injury.
Some commonly reported symptoms are:
- Back pain in the lumbar and cervical region
- Sciatic pain
- Neck pain
- Limited range of movement
- Tingling or numbness
- Muscle weakness
- Burning sensation in the affected region
Are annular tears a serious injury?
Annular tears are usually known to be self-healing. Your body develops scar tissues and heals the tear over time.
But the initial tear can compromise the integrity of the fibers in the disc making you susceptible for additional tears in the region.
Some studies have shown that annular tears can cause faster wear and tear of your intervertebral discs, end plates and facet joints.
Annular tears can be caused naturally due to old age or when you engage in strenuous activity like high-intensity sports.
Depending on the cause of injury, the seriousness of the tear can vary. If you experience excruciating and persistent pain in your neck or your back despite treatments, it is better to rule out annular tears with your doctor.
This is because annular tears have infamously known to masquerade as generic pain leading to misdiagnosis. The annular disc is connected to the nerves which can cause radiating pain, which may be difficult for you to explain to the doctor.
Unattended annular tears could cause long term damage while also causing additional tears making them a serious injury.
How are annular tears diagnosed and treated?
Doctors will ask you to provide medical history and a thorough disclosure of symptoms and nature of injury.
Considering your age and the need, they may ask for X-ray imaging to study abnormalities.
Earlier, disco-grams were used to rule out annular tears, but these have become obsolete now due to their inaccurate results and painful procedures.
Sometimes your doctor may also order MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to check for any soft tissue damages.
All these diagnoses may still fail to identify annular tears, which is why doctors treat it conservatively. Unless the patient reports excruciating pain and the source is unknown, the treatment is simple.
Doctors prescribe painkillers, anti-inflammatories, spine-specialized physical therapies, low-impact exercises as the norm.
If the pain persists, epidural steroid injections and surgery options are offered to the patient.
Surgical options include laser procedures or minimally invasive procedures like discectomy, spinal fusion or disc replacement. These help in reduced pain and shorter post-op recovery time.
What are the complications of annular tears?
If left untreated or when medical advice is not adhered to, annular tears can tend to worsen. They can manifest as severe complications like:
- Chronic pain in the spine region at the point of injury
- Herniated disc can occur when the jelly-like nucleus pulposus leaks into the spinal canal. This causes intense pain and nerve compression among other symptoms.
- Nerve compression is caused when the torn disc herniates and presses against spinal nerves causing numbness, tingling and radiating pain along the legs.
- Sciatica is the condition where the sciatic nerve is compressed and is a common side effect of annular tears. This causes pain along the sciatic nerve which runs from the back of your leg all the way to the foot.
- Annular tear can also damage the integrity of the vertebral body end plates and disc structure, leading to the development of further tears over time.
What to do if you were in a car accident?
If you were in a car accident, please seek immediate medical attention and get a thorough check-up to rule out any injury or complication.
If you have suffered serious injuries, ensure that your emergency contact informs your insurance company and keeps a record of all your medical bills. These bills are important when filing a lawsuit asking for damages and adequate compensation.
Calling a car accident lawyer as soon as possible will help with filing a compensation claim to ensure that this tragic accident does not burn a hole in your wallet.
A competent lawyer will be able to piece together all the evidence and build a solid case against the at-fault party. You will be able to seek compensation for all your medical bills, prescription costs, assistive devices, loss-of-pay, emotional distress and future medical costs. Here, at Krasney Law, we believe that as a victim of a car crash, you should not be further tormented with the burden of unnecessary expenses. Call our personal injury lawyers and our expert attorneys will get you fair compensation for all your woes caused by the catastrophic car accident.
Contact a California Car Accident Attorney Today For A Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have suffered a neck or back injury due to someone else’s negligence contact a car accident lawyer today. Monetary compensation cannot erase the effects of a physical injury after a car accident. However, it can help provide the necessary tools to help you or a loved one recover.
Call us for a free consultation at (909) 380-7200 or fill out our online contact form to request your FREE consultation.