An annular tear is a rip in the tough outer layer of a spinal disc. While this injury may not cause severe pain in and of itself, it can eventually lead to a number of symptoms by allowing the material at the center of the disc to leak out. When this jellylike substance — called mucoprotein gel — impinges on a nerve root, it can cause pain, tingling, muscle weakness, numbness and burning along the affected nerve. Since the discomfort caused by this type of injury usually worsens gradually, patients often delay seeking medical advice, hoping the pain will eventually go away. Tears often do heal on their own, but the time it takes to do so varies widely. Some patients begin to feel better after a few weeks, while others are still experiencing symptoms after a year. A certain percentage of patients may require surgery to repair the damaged disc.
Some of the signs that it’s time to consider annular tear treatment include:
- Increasingly severe muscle weakness that begins to impair your ability to climb stairs, grip small objects or operate a motor vehicle
- An inability to sleep through the night due to tingling, numbness or burning sensations in your neck, back, arms or legs
- Pain that intensifies after walking a short distance
- An eroding ability to perform even routine daily activities such as grocery shopping, bathing, light housecleaning and meal preparation
- Pain, numbness or tingling in one leg that is aggravated by sitting, standing or walking
- Symptoms that have lasted longer than four weeks or have steadily intensified
If you have been diagnosed with an annular tear and conservative treatment options have not been successful in effectively managing your pain, contact USA Spine Care today. We will be happy to discuss your situation and help you discover if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive surgeries.