How to Treat Symptoms Associated with Annular Tears

Annular tears are fissures or ruptures of the fibrous outer wall (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc. This is also another way to refer to a herniated disc, which is a common degenerative spine condition among people who are middle-aged or older. Over the years, the anatomical components of the spine are subjected to a wide range of stress-inducing movement, while simultaneously supporting most of the body’s weight. Through the normal aging process, intervertebral discs, which are made up of an outer wall and a gel-like inner core, begin to lose water content and become brittle. Eventually, the outer wall could bulge and begin to split, allowing seepage of the nucleus material into the spinal canal. If the torn outer wall or extruded inner material comes into contact with the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve root, symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can occur.

Conservative treatments

More often than not, symptoms associated with annular tears can be managed conservatively. There are many conservative treatment methods available, including:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other analgesics can control the pain until nerve inflammation subsides.
  • Physical therapy, exercise, stretching – under the guidance of a trained therapist, patients develop an exercise regimen geared toward strengthening the particular portion of the body affected by nerve compression symptoms.
  • Alternative medicine – some people have found success using chiropractic therapy, acupuncture and other medicinal systems that operate outside the medical mainstream.

When conservative treatment is not enough

More often than not, symptoms associated with annular tears will become manageable or even subside altogether after several weeks or months of conservative treatment. However, if chronic pain persists, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain.