Disc resorption and how it helps an annular tear

Disc resorption is the body’s natural healing process for a damaged disc in the spine, such as a disc with an annular tear.

An annular tear occurs when a disc in the spine becomes too compressed due to age and natural wear of the spine and the outer layer of the disc, called the annulus fibrosus, develops a small tear. While this condition sometimes causes pain because displaced disc material will touch a nearby nerve, many people with this condition never recognize it. If the torn disc never affects a nerve, pain or symptoms won’t be experienced. That’s often when the body begins the resorption process and heals the annular tear before the person even notices it has developed.

Your body’s response to an annular tear

Just as your body would recognize and fight bacteria that try to invade a cut in your skin, your body recognizes the inner disc fluid that can push through an annular tear as a material that should not come into contact with other bodily tissues. Your body’s immune system kicks in and uses macrophages — white blood cells that destroy pathogens — to break down the disc material until it can be completely reabsorbed by the body.

With time, annular tears can close and heal. If you are experiencing symptoms of pain and discomfort during this time, your physician can recommend some at-home exercises, stretches and lifestyle changes to help reduce the pressure on the damaged disc while your body goes through the resorption process.

Keeping your immune system strong

A physician-supervised course of diet, exercise and medication can keep your immune system optimized during the disc resorption process. Take part in low-impact exercises that do not exert too much pressure on the spinal column. Walking, hiking, swimming, elliptical training and stationary core exercises are all good options. Certain foods also can help reduce annular tear healing time, including dark, leafy greens, green tea, nuts, fish, flaxseed and fiber. Stay well hydrated and ask your physician about medications that can minimize your symptoms as you wait for your herniated disc to resorb.

If you are still experiencing pain after several months of conservative treatment, contact the caring staff at Laser Spine Institute. We have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain with our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures. Depending on the location and severity of your annular tear, our medical professionals may recommend a minimally invasive spine surgery to help you find pain relief. Many cases of nerve compression from a damaged disc can be treated with a minimally invasive decompression surgery, which removes part of the damaged disc to relieve pressure on the nerve. In some severe cases of disc damage, the entire disc is removed and replaced with an implant to stabilize the spine. This is accomplished through our minimally invasive stabilization surgery.

For more information about the benefits of our procedures compared to traditional open back surgery, and to find out if you may be a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*