The spinal column is a complex structure that comprises 33 vertebrae and 23 discs that separate the top three-quarters of the vertebrae. The discs serve as cushions that absorb shock and protect the vertebrae. They are made of a soft, gelatinous fluid inside the nucleus and tough connective fibers or annulus fibrosus outside. As you age, the vertebral discs become susceptible to wear and tear and injuries. An annular tear is a common spine injury that you need to be aware of. Let us explain what an annular tear spine injury is and the causes that can cause it.
Annular tears explained
Annular tears usually affect the lower back area, with discs tearing inside out. The tears start in the nucleus and reach out to the annulus fibrosus. At the beginning stages, the injury is minor and may not even cause discomfort. But it can get progressively worse over time as the gel-like fluid in the disc starts leaking out. The fluid can cause unbearable pain once it hits the spinal nerves. Even as the tear heals eventually over time, it can have far-reaching effects as the area becomes vulnerable to injuries in the future. Understanding the causes and avoiding them can save you from a lot of trouble as you can prevent injury and re-injury.
Causes of annular tear injury
Annual tears are age-related, and you can expect them to occur as you grow older. The spine bears most of your body weight, so it is normal for discs to sustain wear and tear over time. Your intervertebral discs generally start degenerating as early as in your thirties, and the condition deteriorates over the years. Tears are also common in athletes because sports injuries can aggravate them. The risk runs high for people working in jobs that involve heavy labor, so they are more likely to need pain management services for the condition at an early age. Falls and motor vehicle accidents are less common reasons for these injuries. While you cannot do much about aging, the other causes are avoidable to some extent.
Timely diagnosis and treatment helps
Annular tears have symptoms similar to other back issues, and it gets a tad challenging to have a diagnosis. A shooting or stabbing pain is an indication, while you may also experience weakness and numbness in arms and legs and swelling from inflammation. The doctor will recommend an X-ray and a computed tomography scan to verify the condition. Once diagnosed, they will have a treatment plan comprising over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain management techniques, physical therapy, massage, exercise, and hot and cold therapy. Conventional therapies may take months to give effects, but timely action can save you from a lot of trouble. Corticosteroid injections or minimally invasive surgery may be the options for more severe cases.
Annular tears are hard to deal with, but everything boils down to early detection and timely treatment. Fortunately, thousands of patients rely on pain management clinics for effective results because they offer safe therapies that deliver lasting relief.