What is an Annular Tear?
An annular tear occurs when a rip or tear develops in the outer layer, called the annulus fibrosus, of a spinal disc. While this condition can have several causes, the most common risk factor is the natural aging and deterioration of the spine over time.
With increased age, discs in the spine lose water and protein content. This weakens the spinal discs and causes them to decrease in height and become less able to withstand the pressure of the surrounding vertebrae. With natural body motion and the weakening of the disc, small tears often develop in the tough outer layer of the spinal disc. Most tears are small and asymptomatic.
Occasionally, a tear is large enough to break through the outer layer of the spinal disc and allow the inner disc fluid to escape into the spinal canal. This is defined as a herniated disc and could cause irritation or compression of nearby nerves. Symptoms of this nerve compression can include pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the area where the affected nerve travels.
Annular Tear Prevention
While complete annular tear prevention might not be achievable, there are steps you can take. Since your spine is responsible for carrying the weight of the body and allowing for basic movements, certain factors that reduce the pressure placed on the spine can have benefits to your long-term spine health. These lifestyle changes include:
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Maintaining a good posture
- Eating a healthy diet
- Moderating alcohol consumption
These recommendations are ways to maintain a strong spine and help combat the natural degeneration that takes place. However, even if symptoms do develop, there is a wide range of surgical annular tear treatment options available.
Annular Tear Treatment
Many patients manage symptoms through a program of conservative nonsurgical therapy to strengthen the muscles. There are a variety of treatment options available including physical therapy and hot/cold therapy. If you have tried conservative annular tear treatments without results, surgery can become a serious consideration.
BEST Health System
BEST Health System specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open back procedures. This offers many benefits, including less risk of infection and no lengthy recovery. For more information on how BEST can help you find relief from chronic neck and back pain, contact us today.