A diagnosis of an annular tear in an intervertebral disc sounds dreadful, but it’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds. To better grasp the implications, it’s important to know what the term means and how the condition is caused. In essence, an annular tear is a rupture or split in the fibrous outer wall (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc, which is one of the sponge-like cushions between the vertebrae. These ruptures are a common result of the aging process, which robs the gel-like inner core of water content and weakens the fibrous outer wall. A ruptured annulus fibrous is known as a herniated disc, a condition that remains asymptomatic most of the time.
When an Annular Tear in the Disc Produces Symptoms
A herniated disc produces symptoms only when a portion of the torn outer wall or the extruded inner material makes contact with the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve root. When this happens, symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can occur. More often than not, these symptoms can be managed using conservative treatment methods including:
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic therapy
- Pain medicine
- Epidural steroid injections
If Conservative Treatment is Not Enough
If chronic pain or other symptoms associated with an annular tear in a disc persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, a doctor might suggest surgery as an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to discover whether a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed endoscopically can help you rediscover your life without back and neck pain.