Several different symptoms can develop as a result of an annular tear. Some of these depend on the location of the torn disc (e.g., an annular tear in the cervical spine can cause different complications than an annular tear in the lumbar spine). Others simply vary from person to person.
Annular tear complications
Chronic neck or back pain is the most common symptom of an annular tear. Note, though, that when a disc tears, the process itself is not always painful. In fact, some people have a torn disc and never know it. Instead, pain that’s caused by an annular tear is usually a result of the disc’s inner core seeping out into the spinal canal and compressing a nerve or nerve root. Because the spinal nerves are incredibly sensitive, even mild pressure can lead to severe, chronic pain.
This nerve compression can also cause neurological symptoms, such as pins-and-needles sensations and muscle weakness. Sometimes, these issues are localized to the site of the compression, but in other situations, they travel along the path of the affected nerve. In the case of a cervical annular tear, these symptoms can radiate through an arm or hand. For a lumbar annular tear, they can travel through a leg or foot.
Managing your annular tear symptoms
Often, these symptoms can be managed through conservative treatments, such as medication and physical therapy. In other situations, surgery might be recommended to decompress an affected nerve.
If you’d like to explore minimally invasive surgical treatment for your annular tear, you can contact USA Spine Care to learn about our outpatient procedures. Our treatments may be appropriate if you’ve had little to no success with conservative therapies. We’ll be happy to review* your MRI for free to help you find out if you’re a candidate.