Annular tear and types of treatment

Annular tears often only require treatment when they cause symptoms of pain and discomfort in the spine or extremities. For many patients, an annular tear is never noticed and will heal on its own. This is because, while the annular tear does cause disc damage, pain and symptoms only occur if the damaged disc touches a nearby nerve root. If this does not happen, the body will begin the process of resorption to heal the tear.

If you are experiencing symptoms of pain in the spine or even pain and numbness that reaches into your extremities, you should consult your physician or a spine care expert to determine the source of your pain. Depending on the cause of your pain and the location of the condition, your physician can help you find the most beneficial treatment option to help reduce your symptoms.

Causes of an annular tear

An annular tear is a fissure that develops in the tough outer layer of a disc in the spine. Aging discs naturally lose water content and become thinner over time. They also grow brittle and become deformed as the surrounding vertebrae constantly press down on them over time.

Also known as degenerative disc disease, this gradual degeneration of the disc is asymptomatic on its own. In fact, most people likely have multiple small asymptomatic annular tears of which they are unaware. However, such tears allow for the possible escape of disc core material, also known as a disc herniation. When the gel-like inner material of the disc extrudes through the annular tear and presses on a spinal nerve, symptoms can develop as a result of this nerve compression.

Symptoms of an annular tear

Nerve compression caused by an annular tear can result in multiple symptoms, which often include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Chronic pain
  • Pain that travels the length of the nerve

Treatment for an annular tear

Most annular tears eventually heal on their own, but your physician could suggest conservative treatments to assist in the healing process or to help manage your symptoms.

Nevertheless, some patients find conservative treatments to be unproductive and instead turn to surgery for relief. If this describes your situation, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive surgical procedures that may preclude the need for open spine surgery. We offer a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization can remove a portion of the disc that is pressing against the spinal nerve, or replace the damaged disc altogether with an artificial disc, depending on the severity of the condition.

For more information about the advantages of the minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact our spine care experts for an MRI review today.