Annular Tears

An Annular Tear occurs when the tough outer layer of the spinal disc rips or tears. Discs in the spine also serve as protection between the vertebrae, providing support to the structure of the neck and back while also acting as shock absorbers. If too much stress is exerted on a disc, either from the continual performance of everyday activities such as sitting and stand or a result of sudden trauma then an annular tear can happen. Read on to learn different forms of an Annual Tear.


Types Of Annular Tears:

The disc wall is made in several layers, each of them can become torn. The nature of the tear and the layers they are on will be the basis for how the tear is categorized.


  • Radial Tears. Typically caused naturally by aging, radial tears begin at the center of the disc and from there goes through the outer layer of the disc wall. these tears can cause a disc to protrude, which occurs when the gel-like center of a disc extrudes through the tear.
  • Peripheral Tears.  These tears happen in the outer fibers of the tough outer layers of the disc and are usually brought on by injuries or contact with a bone spur. Peripheral tears can lead to the generation or breakdown of a disc in the spine.
  • Concentric Tears. When a tear occurs between the outer layers circumferentially, it is called a concentric tear, which is usually caused by an injury.


Diagnosing and Annular Tear:

Patients usually seek the guidance of a primary care doctor or a back specialist when they are experiencing pain that could be associated with an annular tear. After a physical assessment, physicians typically do one or more tests. This condition is usually best seen on a CT discography, which uses dye to identify the Annular Tear. But, CT discography can be painful and not well tolerated. An MRI can be used to see the disc architecture painlessly; but, in some cases, a tear may not be visible.





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Symptoms a patient may experience from an Annular Tear can include:

Specific symptoms depend on where the bone spurs are located. Examples include:


pain, numbness or loss of sensation in the thigh or groin area


diminished strength in the hip flexor; pain, numbness or loss of sensation in the thighs


pain or numbness in the thighs, diminished patellar reflex or quadriceps weakness


numbness or loss of feeling in the feet, diminished patellar tendon reflex, quadriceps weakness or pain in the legs


loss of sensation in the feet or toes; numbness or weakness in the hips or legs


Minimally invasive procedures that may be considered when suffering from an Annular Tear:

Epidural injections

Epidural steroid injections (or ESI) are typically performed after non-invasive measures (physical therapy and/or chiropractic) have failed. An ESI procedure involves delivering a steroid medication directly to the site of the inflammation…

Other Non-Surgical Options:

  • Deep tissue massage
  • Spine alignment correction
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Ultrasound treatment
  • Pain patches
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation treatment

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