Accidents cause a variety of injuries to the back, neck, and spine. Some injuries are minor and heal with time and rest. Other spinal cord injuries may require extensive medical treatment, including surgery and physical therapy.

An annular tear injury is one of those injuries. A person with a small annular tear may not even notice the injury. However, more severe tears can result in pressure on surrounding nerves, thereby causing pain and other symptoms.

What is an Annular Tear Injury?

Our spines are made up of 33 vertebrae (the small bones that form the backbone). Most of the vertebrae are separated by discs, which protect and cushion the vertebrae. The discs consist of a soft, gel-like center surrounded by tough connective fibers called the annulus fibrosus or annular fibers.

A tear in the annular fiber can allow the gel-like fluid from the disc to leak out, which can cause extreme pain if the fluid comes into contact with the spinal nerves.

Symptoms of an annular tear include, but might not be limited to:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Radiating pain
  • Burning sensations
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in the legs or arms

Symptoms may become worse during any activity that places pressure on the disc. Activities that can aggravate symptoms of annular tears include lifting an object, sitting for long periods, twisting, coughing, or sneezing. 

Without medical treatment, the condition could worsen. If you experience any back pain or other symptoms, especially after an accident, it is wise to see a doctor immediately. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Annular Tears

An annular tear can take a long time to heal. The first step in healing is a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Physicians diagnose annular tears by reviewing and analyzing the patient’s symptoms. Try to be as specific as possible when describing your symptoms to your doctor, including the date the symptoms began, and if the symptoms began after an accident or other trauma.

Most physicians perform imaging tests, such as a discography test or MRI, to evaluate back pain. The imagining tests help the physician diagnose the annular tear and develop a treatment plan based on the location and severity of the tear.

Treatment of an annular tear may include one or more methods. A doctor may prescribe:

  • Limited rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medications
  • Heat and/or cold therapy
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Surgery

Most patients obtain relief without surgical intervention. However, when a patient is not responding to other therapies, a physician may recommend spinal surgery to try to relieve the pain and other symptoms caused by an annular tear.

What Causes an Annular Tear?

Annular tears can result from wear and tear on the spine. Over time, the spinal discs absorb a lot of pressure. The annular fibers can weaken and become more susceptible to tears and injuries. 

Some degenerative conditions can also cause the annular fibers to weaken and tear. Repetitive motions, such as twisting and lifting objects, can also cause annular tears. Climbing ladders and standing or sitting for long periods can also result in annular tears.

Some traumatic injuries may cause annular disc tears. The pressure put on the discs during a traumatic event can cause the fibers to rip apart and tear.

Accidents and injuries that can cause an annular disc tear include, but are not limited to:

If another party causes an accident or situation that results in an annular disc tear, you could be entitled to compensation for your injury. Even if the injury occurred at work, you could have a claim against a third party for compensation in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. 

Compensation Available for Annular Disc Tears

The compensation you might receive for a personal injury claim depends on the facts in your case. However, most victims who sustain injuries because of another party’s negligence, errors, or wrongdoing can receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses related to the injury
  • Lost benefits and wages if you cannot work
  • Cost of personal care and in-home health care
  • Physical therapy and occupational therapy costs
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities

A personal injury lawyer can review your case to determine whether you might have an injury claim against another party. The attorney explains your rights and options so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

An annular tear can result in chronic pain and debilitating symptoms. You could be out of work for months. In some cases, you may sustain a permanent impairment.

Seeking compensation from the party who caused your injury does not undo the pain. A personal injury settlement does compensate you for your financial losses associated with the injury, as well as the pain and suffering you endured because of another party’s negligence.