What is an Annular Tear?
An annular tear in the spine can present itself in a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain that extends from the spine into the nearby arm or leg. It can also cause numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremity, making once-simple activities like walking or sitting at your desk difficult.
These painful symptoms should not prevent you from living the lifestyle you enjoy. An annular tear is a common condition that affects many people over the age of 50. Typically, the body heals the damaged disc before any symptoms are experienced. However, if you are feeling the pain of an annular tear, you should talk to your doctor about finding treatment options to reduce your symptoms while your body naturally heals.
Diagnosing an Annular Tear
Pain is usually the driving factor that causes a patient to seek treatment for a spine condition. Before your physician can recommend any treatment options, they must first diagnose the cause of your pain. A doctor will order the following tests to diagnose this condition:
- Physical exam — A physician will test your strength and reflexes to determine the extent of your injury. This is especially important since an annular tear in the lower back can lead to other conditions, such as sciatica, which can decrease the muscle strength in your legs or feet.
- MRI — Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to present a detailed image of the neck and back.
- Discography — This method is generally the most effective way to diagnose an annular tear. Dye is injected into the disc, giving the physician a clear view of any injury that may be present. Discography is not routinely used because dye injection into an already inflamed disc is quite uncomfortable.
How Can I Treat this Condition?
Once your physician diagnoses an annular tear, you will most likely be recommended a series of conservative treatments to help reduce your pain. Conservative treatments do not treat the condition, but rather they reduce the symptoms of pain and discomfort while your body heals itself through the natural resorption process. Many patients can find effective relief through conservative therapy.
Surgical intervention may be necessary if conservative efforts are ineffective. Through the use of modern technology, surgeons are now able to complete these procedures without the need for large incisions. BEST Health System is the industry leader in minimally invasive care. Even compared to other minimally invasive surgical providers, BEST is setting the blueprint. Contact our team to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services. Put an end to your back pain now and for all.