Annular tears cause pain in proportion to amount of inflammation generated by the tear. In general, the larger the tear, the greater the inflammation. When the annular tear allows the gel-like material of the central disc to extrude into the area surrounding the disc, the annular tear has graduated from a tear to a disc herniation. Disc herniation produces increased localized painful inflammation. If the extruded material compresses adjacent nerve rootlets, pain, numbness, tingling, and/or weakness may be experienced anywhere along the course of the impacted nerve.
Nerve Compression is the True Culprit
It’s when the inner disc material pushes through the small annular tear and places pressure on a nearby nerve, or the spinal cord itself, that symptoms arise. The nerve compression is the true cause of the symptoms, not the herniated disc itself. When no nerve compression exists, it is entirely possible to have more than one herniated disc at the same time at different levels of the spine that are completely asymptomatic. But when a nerve gets irritated, the symptoms may be intensely painful.
A small annular tear can actually heal on its own. A conservative treatment plan, consisting of nonsurgical measures, can help speed up this natural process and help manage symptoms. Your doctor will likely recommend a variety of options, including physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, exercise, chiropractic treatment, massage, pain medications, and others. However, if symptoms persist, additional pathology may have occurred. Contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our safe, effective endoscopic procedures are minimally invasive alternatives to open back surgery and may help you rediscover your spinal health.