What is an annular fissure in the lumbar spine?

An annular fissure in the lumbar spine is a small tear in the tough outer wall of one of the spinal discs in the lower back. There are five discs in the lumbar (lower) spine and a fissure can occur in any of them, along with the discs in the upper spine or middle of the back. This debilitating condition does not often disappear by itself and requires treatment, such as conservative therapy and spine surgery.

Annular fissures, regardless of where they occur, are most commonly caused by age-related degeneration. There are three main types of fissures, which are categorized based on the nature of the tear and the layers of the disc it affects. Radial tears begin at the center of a disc and extend through its outer layer. These are most likely to result from regular wear on the spine.

However, annular fissures may be caused by sudden trauma or injury. The fissures that are most likely to develop from trauma include tears that solely occur in the outer layer of a disc’s shell and tears that occur between the layers of a disc. If you are suffering from an annular fissure in the lumbar spine, read the following article to learn about the conservative and surgical treatments available to you.

Conservative annular fissure treatment options

An annular fissure can be quite painful and treatment is often necessary. Both prescription and over-the-counter pain medications can play a valuable role in relieving fissure-related pain. Epidural steroids can also be injected directly into the epidural space surrounding the spinal nerve roots to address more severe discomfort that might be caused by disc tissue that’s compressing the nerve root.

When treating a patient with an annular fissure, a doctor might also recommend gentle low-impact exercises to help strengthen the muscles in the neck and back, as well as activity modification and short periods of rest as needed. However, in the event that your symptoms do not improve after several weeks or months, then surgery may become an option.

Annular fissure surgery

If you require surgical intervention for your annular fissure, it might be beneficial to consult with a surgeon about your potential options, such as the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute. Since 2005, our dedicated team has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. To find out if you’re a candidate for our procedures, reach out to us and ask for a free MRI review.*

We offer several minimally invasive procedures that may be a helpful addition to your annular fissure treatment plan. Our procedures use a small incision that does not unnecessarily disrupt the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine, thereby resulting in a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^ Contact us today to learn if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your annular fissure symptoms.