Can An Annular Tear Cause Leg Pain?

What is an Annular Tear?

An annular tear is a condition where the outer layer, or annulus fibrosis, of a spinal disc develops a rip or tear. This is not necessarily a painful condition, with many patients only finding out about it upon getting an X-ray or other diagnostic imagery. Disc tears usually develop along with natural changes that cause the discs to dry out and lose elasticity, leading to minor cracks in the outer layer that can grow into more giant tears. Learn more about annular tears with BEST Health System.

While it may seem surprising that a small tear in a spinal disc could be related to lower body symptoms like leg pain, the two can be connected. Whether you’re researching potential causes of leg pain, have been diagnosed with an annular tear, or are also dealing with leg pain, we hope the following information can help.

Why Might an Annular Tear Cause Leg Pain?

An annular tear typically results in either no symptoms or minor localized irritation. However, it can potentially rupture if pressure on the disc causes inner disc material to push through the tear. Disc material from a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine can pressure spinal nerves that travel into the lower body, producing radiating symptoms and local pain. Specific symptoms include the following:

  • Shooting pain in the hips, buttocks, and legs
  • Tingling and numbness that can reach down to the toes
  • Cramping, spasms, and muscle weakness in the legs

These symptoms are often called sciatica if they result from compression of the long sciatic nerve by a herniated disc, bone spur, or other conditions.

Treatment Options with BEST Health System

To help with leg pain caused by an annular tear, doctors usually recommend conservative treatments such as physical therapy, massage, light to moderate exercise, and chiropractic care. Your doctor may suggest medications and lifestyle changes, like posture correction or quitting smoking. Annular tears and herniated discs can heal independently, but surgery may become an option if symptoms like leg pain remain severe after fully pursuing conservative options.

At BEST Health System, we believe in finding patients the least invasive, most effective annular tear treatment option. We do this by specializing in minimally invasive procedures and working to find new ways to help patients feel their BEST. Contact us today to learn more about annular tear treatment with BEST Health System.