When the annulus fibrosus is ripped, causing swelling, it is called an annular tear. The annulus fibrosus is the outside portion of an inter-vertebral disc. This area is densely packed with nerves, so when tears such as this occur, it is extremely painful. The discs act like cushioning between the spinal vertebra and help absorb shock, allowing the spine to be flexible without damaging the bones.
Annular tears commonly occur as we age. Our necks and lower backs take on the responsibility of carrying most of our weight, making our backs extremely vulnerable to extra break down. Degenerating can be seen as young as 30 years old, even without outside causes that would speed up the rate at which the spine degenerates, such as s ports or manual labor. Once breakdown has started, it is much easier to get an annular tear. Another common cause of such a tear is experiencing trauma or an injury from sports or daily activities.
If you think you may have an annular tear, here are some of the symptoms. The most noticeable symptom will be pain. The pain is almost always very severe and will not allow people to continue with their day to day activities. It can result in a herniated disc, which is perhaps the most painful version of this condition. There may also be tingling and numbness, possibly even weakness due to pinched nerves and poor circulation.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help heal and relieve the discomfort experienced from this condition. Treating the condition early on and not trying to suffer through the pain hoping it gets better is the first step to a quick recovery. Always visit a health care professional if you are experiencing extreme pain. It is tempting to self-diagnose, but doctors are highly trained and may be able to see something that you can’t. In most cases, a CT scan will be performed to look for the annular tear.
Small tears may heal by themselves, but scar tissue will form. It is important to make sure you rest enough to allow your body to heal, whether it is healing on its own or after medical care. Part of the recovery process for conditions like this is physiotherapy exercises. Instructions will be given by your doctor or physical therapist. It is important you follow their instructions to make sure you heal properly and as quickly as possible.