Motor vehicle collisions can do major damage to someone’s spine. Blunt force trauma, penetrating injuries and violent motions can all damage the spine. Those involved in a car crash may develop painful spinal conditions that limit their functional abilities.
Obviously, a spinal cord injury that affects someone’s sensation and motor function is a major concern after a car wreck. However, people can damage the spine itself without injuring the spinal cord. Some people will develop an annular tear. Others may suffer from a herniated disc. These conditions can affect someone’s employment and inspire massive medical expenses. The ability to recognize the signs of an annular tear or herniated disc may benefit those who have been involved in a wreck and are in need of financial and medical support.
What is an annular tear?
A rudimentary understanding of the spine is necessary to understand an annular tear. Every bone in the spine has an intervertebral disc separating it from its neighbors. These discs allow the spine to twist and bend. They also absorb shock. If there is a crack or other damage in the outer layer of a vertebral disc, that crack is an annular tear. An annular tear can be very painful, as the discs in the spine contain many nerves. The condition may also worsen without treatment, and a previously injured disc is at increased risk of re-injury in the future. If the tear worsens, people may develop a herniated disc.
What is a herniated disc?
When the tear in a vertebral disc worsens or is very large to begin with, the viscous fluid or gel inside the disc can leak out. A leaking vertebral disc is a herniated disc. Most people will experience severe pain when they have a herniated disc because it can no longer help absorb shock as it previously did and may not give proper cushioning to the nearby vertebra when someone moves. It is also possible for the herniated tissue to apply abnormal pressure to nearby nerves. People may experience shooting pains down the back, decreased strength, reduced range of motion and tingling or numbness in their limbs. Many people struggle to continue working or engaging in daily activities when they have a herniated disc.
Ideally, those with a potential spinal injury will receive careful medical evaluation after a crash to identify and treat annular tears or herniated discs. Filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit may help those with debilitating injuries cover treatment costs and lost wages after a collision caused by another’s carelessness.