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 typically only occur if the damaged disc touches a nearby nerve root.
If you are experiencing localized symptoms or pain and numbness that reaches into your extremities, you should consult your doctor to determine the source of your pain. Depending on the cause of your pain and the location of the condition, your doctor 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, called the annulus fibrosus. 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.
Also known as degenerative disc disease, this gradual degeneration of the disc is asymptomatic on its own. In fact, it is possible to have multiple small annular tears without knowing it. However, such tears allow for the possible escape of inner disc material, also known as a disc herniation. When the gel-like inner material of the disc pushes through an 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:
- Chronic pain
- Pain that travels the length of the nerve
Treatment for an annular tear
Annular tears very often heal on their own, and in the meantime, your doctor can suggest conservative treatments to assist in the healing process or to help manage your symptoms.
Some patients are unable to find lasting relief even after fully exhausting conservative treatments and instead begin to consider surgery for relief. If this describes your situation, contact USA Spine Care today to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery. By using muscle-sparing techniques, we are able to offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.
For more information about the advantages of the minimally invasive surgery at USA Spine Care, reach out to our dedicated team today. We can perform a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.