Annulus fibrosus – The cartilaginous outer wall of an intervertebral disc; contains the inner gel-like fluid of the disc’s nucleus, called the nucleus pulposus. Over time, the annulus fibrosus can degenerate and become prone to tearing.
Annulus Fibrosus Definition
The annulus fibrosus is the fibrous, multi-layered outer wall of an intervertebral disc. This wall encircles the gelatinous material of the disc’s nucleus, the nucleus pulposus. Over time, the entire intervertebral disc begins to degenerate. The inner fluid loses water content and the annulus fibrosus becomes inelastic and brittle. Fissures can develop in the disc wall, a condition known as a herniated disc.
Can A Torn Annulus Fibrosus Heal?
A herniated disc can cause the inner disc fluid to leak into the spinal canal and exert pressure on nearby spinal nerves. This can cause symptoms of numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness to radiate from the back and through the extremities. However, through a process called resorption, it is possible for herniated discs to heal themselves over a period of weeks or months. When nucleus pulposus leaks into the spinal canal, your body recognizes it as a foreign material and tries to break down the extruded fluid, just as it would try to fight an illness. The immune system uses macrophages to break down the disc material until it can be absorbed by the body.
Conservative treatments will help the majority of patients who have a symptomatic herniated annulus fibrosus. Your doctor might suggest pain medication, behavior modification, hot-cold therapy, massage, or low-impact exercises. More targeted methods of pain management are available, such as nerve block injections, acupuncture, and ultrasound therapy, among others. If weeks or months of non-operative treatments prove ineffective, your doctor may suggest that you consider surgery. If this is the case, contact Laser Spine Institute. We specialize in minimally invasive procedures that safely and effectively target the source of your back and neck pain. For more information about our endoscopic procedures, or for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan, contact us today.
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