Spinal discs are composed of two parts, the annulus fibrosus and the nucleus pulposus. The human spine is divided into three regions, the cervical (neck), the thoracic and the lumbar regions. A cervical annular tear is a tear in the annulus fibrosus of the disc in the cervical region. Specifically, an annular tear is the opening in the outer wall of an intervertebral disc. It can result from the natural degeneration of the disc over time as part of the aging process, or from a traumatic event. A disc can bulge, thin or weaken to the point that an annular tear could develop. However, if the gel-like nucleus pulposus extrudes through the opening, a herniated cervical disc can be the result.
Interestingly, a cervical annular tear exhibits no symptoms. In fact, the cervical spine can contain multiple herniated discs and remain asymptomatic. An annular tear usually causes inflammation resulting in localized neck pain. But, when the inner disc material extrudes into the spinal canal and places pressure on a nearby spinal nerve, the potentially debilitating symptoms associated with disc herniation arise. These symptoms can include:
- Chronic pain
- Pain radiating the length of the nerve
Most cervical annular tears heal without treatment. If herniation exists, the body is capable of resorbtion of the nuclear disc material. A physician might recommend symptomatic treatment, consisting of non-surgical, conservative therapies that have proven to be very effective in managing the symptoms of a herniated disc. These treatments can include everything from pain medication and physical therapy, to hot/cold therapy and exercise regimens. However, if you’ve tried conservative treatments for weeks or months with little relief, contact Laser Spine Institute today. As an alternative to conventional open spinal procedures, our orthopedic surgeons perform a variety of minimally invasive procedures to address the cause of symptoms. These more effective alternatives to traditional open neck and back surgery have helped tens of thousands of patients recover their spinal health.