Annular tears are treated symptomatically. No therapy currently exists to cure or repair the annular tear itself. Through conservative treatment, most tears are repaired naturally through the body’s healing process. Occasionally, though, annular tears can allow for the extrusion of the central contents of the vertebral disc, leading to a herniated disc. Extruded disc contents can compress spinal nerve rootlets or the spinal cord itself. For many individuals, conservative treatments work very well in managing the symptoms of the nerve compression resulting from disc herniation.
Causes of annular tears
An annular tear is a fissure that develops in the outer margin of an intervertebral disc. Aging discs naturally lose water content and become thinner over time. They also grow brittle and become deformed as part of the natural aging process. Also known as degenerative disc disease, this gradual degeneration of the disc is asymptomatic on its own. In fact, most people likely have multiple small asymptomatic annular tears of which they are unaware. However, such tears allow for the possible extrusion of disc core material, also known as a disc herniation. When the gel-like inner material of the disc extrudes through the annular tear and exerts pressure on a spinal nerve, symptoms can develop as a result of this nerve compression.
Nerve compression caused by an annular tear can result in multiple symptoms, which often include:
- Chronic pain
- Pain that travels the length of the nerve
Most annular tears eventually heal on their own, but your physician could suggest conservative treatments to assist in the healing process or to help manage your symptoms. Nevertheless, some patients find conservative treatments to be unproductive and instead turn to surgery for relief. If this describes your situation, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive surgical procedures that may preclude the need for open spine surgery. Allow Laser Spine Institute to help you find relief from neck and back pain.