You might find annular tear prevention tips online, but the reality is that the main cause of this degenerative disc disease is the natural aging process. With increased age, intervertebral discs lose water and protein content. This weakens the containment wall of the disc known as the annulus fibrosis. With natural body motion, small tears often develop in the annulus fibrosis. Most tears are small and asymptomatic. Occasionally a tear is large enough to cause inflammation and localized pain. The pain usually disappears in a few days. A large radial tear may also allow some of the gelatinous core, the nucleus pulposus, of the disc to escape into the area surrounding the disc. This is defined as a herniated disc. This may also be asymptomatic. However, when nerve compression occurs due to the inner disc material leaking out and placing pressure on a nearby spinal nerve, symptoms result. Symptoms of this nerve compression can include pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the area innervated by the impinged nerve.
Can You Do Anything to Avoid It?
While annular tear prevention may not be feasible, considering it is a product of the aging process, it does not mean there are not steps to keep the spine healthy and strong to reduce the risk for developing this and other degenerative spine conditions. All of these recommendations are also good ways to maintain overall health and well-being. This is logical, considering your spine is responsible for carrying most of your body weight and provides support for many flexing, bending, and twisting movements. General recommendations are::
- Quit smoking
- Lose weight
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a good posture
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
All of these recommendations are ways to maintain a strong, supple spine and help combat the natural degeneration that takes place. However, sometimes symptoms are unavoidable and you must instead turn to treatment options.
Treating an Annular Tear
Many annular tears will heal spontaneously. Symptoms may be managed through a program of conservative, nonsurgical therapy which is often very effective. Whether it is physical therapy, massage, hot/cold therapy, pain medications, or other choices, your physician can usually prescribe the treatment that is right for you. If you have tried conservative treatments for weeks or months with no results, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about annular tear prevention and our endoscopic procedures that are minimally invasive alternatives to open back surgery.