Annular tear treatment – conservative, alternative and surgical options

An annular tear is a tear in the hard outer layer of a spinal disc. This outer layer is called the annulus fibrosus and is comprised of a tough, elastic material that allows the disc to bend and compress while still maintaining the proper spacing between the surrounding vertebrae.

When the annulus fibrosus undergoes continual pressure from the surrounding vertebrae, often coupled with weight gain and the natural weakening of the spine with age, a tear can develop. This annular tear can lead to the extrusion of inner disc material (nucleus pulposus) into the spinal canal, which can compress a nerve root and cause painful symptoms.

If you have been diagnosed with an annular tear, your physician will discuss with you the annular tear treatment options that are available. Not all annular tear treatment options are surgical — in fact, many patients are able to find relief through conservative methods. Your physician will help you find the best treatment option for your needs.

Annular tear conservative treatments

In many cases, annular tear treatment begins conservatively. Conservative treatment is designed to reduce the symptoms of this condition while the body begins to heal through the natural resorption process.

Common conservative treatments recommended for an annular tear can include a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Weight loss, when necessary
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Stretches
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Corticosteroid injections

Sometimes, patients may ask about adding alternative treatments to their conservative treatment plan to help expedite pain relief. Alternative annular tear treatment options offer patients a more holistic approach to pain relief. You should always consult your physician before making any additions or changes to your prescribed treatment plan.

Alternative treatments for an annular tear

Alternative annular tear treatment methods can include the following approaches to pain relief:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal remedies
  • Massage therapy

While many patients will find relief through conservative and/or alternative treatments after several months, some patients may not. If you have exhausted all nonsurgical treatment options and you are still suffering from chronic pain, your physician may recommend spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery designed to help treat common spine conditions, including an annular tear. Our procedures are performed through a small incision, allowing the muscles surrounding the spine to be spared in order to reduce our patients’ risk of complication and lower the recovery time^ compared to traditional open spine surgery.

If you have been diagnosed with an annular tear and conservative treatment has not worked to relieve your pain, it is time to take the next step toward finding an effective course of treatment. Contact Laser Spine Institute and request a no-cost MRI review* from our team to determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.