A lumbar annular tear, which occurs most commonly at L4/L5 or L5/S1, can progress to a herniated disc. Such a lumbar annular tear may be the result of degenerative disc disease. When an annular tear forms, the gel-like inner disc substance may push through the tear in the outer wall of the disc and leak into the spinal canal. Annular tears often occur as part of the natural aging process. As a disc loses its water content and becomes thinner and more brittle over time, it can potentially deform and herniate.
Symptoms of a lumbar annular tear
While annular tears are sometimes asymptomatic, symptoms may arise if the inner disc material pushes through the outer disc margin and presses on a nearby spinal nerve or the spinal cord itself. These symptoms can include:
Treatment for a lumbar annular tear
Annular tears typically heal on their own. Therefore, your physician will likely recommend a conservative treatment plan to assist with the healing process and help manage your symptoms during that time. Treatment options include hot/cold therapy, exercise, physical therapy, massage and more. Patients who are unable to find relief through conservative treatments sometimes turn to elective back surgery.
If you’ve failed to find relief from your pain and other symptoms after weeks or months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our specialists perform a variety of innovative alternatives to open-back surgery through minimally invasive procedures. These procedures have helped tens of thousands of patients recover their spinal health without the need to undergo traditional open-neck or open-back surgery.