What Is Annular Tear?
In between each vertebrae of the spinal column there is an intervertebral disc. This intervertebral disc is made up of cartilage and acts as a shock absorber and protects the vertebrae from rubbing against each other. Surrounding the intervertebral disc is a tough layer of cartilage which is called as the annulus. This annulus protects the interior parts of the discs which when exposed are extremely vulnerable to injury.
Annular tear is a condition in which this annulus either breaks or ruptures.1 This can be caused due to various strenuous activities like repetitive bending, twisting, or lifting heavy items on a daily basis. Once the annulus ruptures the interior part of the disc is exposed and the soft disc material leaks out of the disc causing a variety of symptoms like pain and compression of the nerves.
Depending on the severity and cause of the tear, there are three main categories of Annular Tears; radial tears, peripheral tears, and concentric tears. Individuals who suffer from Annular Tear are predisposed to conditions like spinal inflammation, malalignment of the disc, herniated disc, osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis.
While some of these conditions can be treated, their symptoms can be quite debilitating having a significant impact on the personal and professional life of the affected individual.
How Does Annular Tear Feel Like?
The primary presenting feature of an Annular Tear is severe excruciating pain.1 This pain may be of sudden or gradual onset. To be sure that the pain is being caused by an Annular Tear, it is better to assess the symptoms for a few days. In case if the pain goes way on its own after a period of some rest then it may just be a strain. In case if the symptoms do not resolve and worsen then it is recommended to get checked with a physician to identify the cause of the symptoms.
In case if an individual has an annular tear he or she will experience pain along with weakness of the arms or legs with numbness and tingling radiating from the back to the lower extremities, bowel or bladder dysfunction as a result of an impinging disc. If an individual has these symptoms then it is recommended to consult with a neurologist or a spine physician to rule out an annular tear causing the symptoms.
In conclusion, Annular Tear is a condition caused by rupture of the annulus which is a protective covering present on the outer portion of the intervertebral disc. As a result of the rupture, the interior part of the disc is exposed and the disc material seeps through the crack and causes symptoms like pain and numbness and tingling.