An intervertebral disc is a strong ligament which makes the connection between one vertebral bone to the next and which functions as the shock-absorbing cushion between each vertebra of the spine. Each disc is surrounded by a strong outer ring of fibers, called the annulus fibrosus, and a soft, jelly-like center, called the nucleus pulposus. The annulus is the strongest area of the disc and connects each vertebra together. The strong annular fibers contain the nucleus and distribute pressure evenly across the disc, absorbing the impact of the body's daily activities and keeping the two vertebrae separated.
The annulus can tear or rupture anywhere around the disc. If it tears and no disc material is ruptured, this is called an annular tear. The outer 1/3 of the disc’s annular ring is highly innervated with pain fibers, that is why such a tear may be extremely painful. This tear will heal with scar tissue over time but is more prone to future tears and injury. Studies also indicate that annular tears may lead to premature degeneration of the disc, endplates, and facet joints.
Most annular tears are caused by the natural aging process. Since the neck and back are responsible for bearing most of a person’s body weight, they are susceptible to a great deal of wear over time. The intervertebral discs start to degenerate to a certain degree from the age of 30. This degeneration can lead to annular tears with repetitive motion since the annulus is in a weakened state. Traumatic injury can cause an annular tear. This is typically seen in high-impact sports such as gymnastics and football and in people with strenuous occupations.
If the patient has a mild tear, then it will heal on its own or with the help of conservative treatment. If the pain is severe and does not respond to traditional treatments, surgery might be an option. The conservative treatment includes pain medication such as naproxen, ibuprofen and physical therapy.
Patients who have a full annular tear and a ruptured disc need surgery to eliminate or reduce their symptoms. The common options for such a surgical repair include a discectomy (disc material removal), a microdiscectomy and a secondary spinal fusion to compensate for the removed spinal disc.
For the treatment of Annular tear you need various doctors depending on the right procedure for you. You might have to see a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, an orthopedist and a licensed acupuncture therapist. Orthopedic surgeons should be certified and experienced in all types of spinal surgeries, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar procedures and techniques, and belong to recognized organizations and associations.
For more information about the Annular Tear treatment and information about the best clinics offering the procedure, please contact us!
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