An annular tear occurs when the outer layer of a spinal disc — called the annulus fibrosus — develops a rip or tear. There can be many causes of this condition, but there is evidence that genetics can play a role since many aspects of spine health are inherited.
If your life is being affected by symptoms related to an annular tear, learning about the different causes can be a very important step in getting the treatment you need. The following information can make you a more informed, engaged patient with a better chance of getting back to normal, comfortable activity.
Since spine conditions like annular tears tend to run in families, doctors and medical researchers have begun to explore the link between genetics and spine health. Although the correlation isn’t completely understood yet, there seems to be a connection between genetic makeup and spinal health. In fact, researchers have noted that identical twins tend to have very similar spines as they age, even though they may have vastly different lifestyles. So, although there may be other causes of a disc tear, such as a sudden injury, your genes may be contributing to the likelihood and the extent of damage.
Other factors to consider
Although genes do influence the structure and resiliency of spinal discs, another major factor in their health is age. As people get older their discs lose water and protein content, which can lead them to shrink and lose elasticity. This means they are no longer able to spring back into place as efficiently after pressure is applied. What’s more, damage from years of bumps and injuries accumulate, leaving areas that are more prone to rupturing under stress.
What can you control?
While no one can control their DNA’s structure or reverse the aging process, there are risk factors that can be avoided to minimize our chances of developing annular tears. For example, being overweight can place extra stress on spinal components, so maintaining a healthy body weight is advisable. Poor posture, driving for long periods of time or performing heavy lifting with improper form can also lead to disc damage.
To treat an annular tear, doctors will often recommend lifestyle changes like losing weight and improving posture in addition to conservative treatments like medication, physical therapy and massage.
If you have been diagnosed with an annular tear and conservative treatments haven’t relieved your symptoms, contact USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional spine procedures, offering our patients a shorter recovery time in comparison.^
Reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for our procedures.