Treatment for an annular tear does not always involve surgery. This condition occurs when the firm outer border of a spinal disc (annulus fibrosus) breaks open. In addition to causing pain at the site of the injury, an annular tear may allow some of the disc’s inner gel-like material (nucleus pulposus) to leak out into the spinal canal, where it can potentially cause irritation or compress a sensitive spinal nerve. This can lead to further pain and other symptoms, such as numbness, weakness and tingling sensations.
Many people who require treatment for an annular tear are able to achieve meaningful symptom relief through use of conservative therapies, such as over-the-counter pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In addition to medications, however, you may have other nonsurgical treatment options as well. If you are interested in taking the most natural approach possible, you are encouraged to discuss your preferences with your physician. He or she can then take this information into account when recommending the best course of action for you.
Natural annular tear treatment options
As part of your natural annular tear treatment program, your physician may suggest that you begin with one or more of the following:
- Low-impact exercises, such as walking or swimming
- Postural improvement
- Hot/cold therapy
- Lifestyle modifications, such as smoking cessation and weight loss, if necessary
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Therapeutic massage
- Tai chi
Regardless of which therapies you ultimately choose, you will likely achieve the best results by making a long-term commitment to your treatment plan and refining your approach continually as needed. You may find that it takes a little bit of experimentation to find the combination of treatments that works best for you, so try not to become discouraged along the way.
Advanced annular tear treatments
If you continue to experience pain despite having exhausted all of your natural treatment options for an annular tear, you might want to think about trying prescription medications, corticosteroid injections or surgery. As you explore your surgical options, keep in mind that you might have a safer and effective alternative to highly invasive open spine surgery, such as the minimally invasive outpatient procedures performed at USA Spine Care.^ Contact us to learn more. We can provide you with a no-cost MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.