While an annular tear sounds like a painful and serious injury, it’s completely treatable with proper care. Read on to learn more about annular tears and the treatment options available.
Types of Annual Tears
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
Nerve compression caused by an annular tear can result in multiple symptoms, which often include: tingling, numbness, weakness, chronic pain, and/or pain that travels the length of the nerve.
Patients usually seek the guidance of a primary care doctor or back specialist when experiencing pain that could be associated with an annular tear. Following a physical assessment, physicians typically perform one or more diagnostic tests. This condition is usually best seen on a CT discography, which utilized dye to identify the annular tear. However, CT discography can be painful and not well tolerated. An MRI can be used to visualize disc architecture painlessly; however, in some cases, a tear might not be visible.