Exercise and Pain Management for an Annular Disc Tear

Pain management. It is the number one reason people seek out the help of a professional PT (physical therapist) and a Pain Management consultant when dealing with a back injury. If you have been diagnosed with an annular disc tear you may have need of a Pain Management solution. Our spines are made to be flexible and strong, held tight with cartilage and ligaments, and cushioned by discs. Excessive activity, aging, or a traumatic event can damage any of these components, leading to pain, discomfort, or muscle spasms caused by the agitated surrounding nerves. 

An annular tear is one of these agitators.

An annular tear occurs when the tough exterior of an intervertebral disc rips or tears. A precursor to the herniated disc, an annular tear can heal on its own with time. However, because the annulus has a limited blood supply, it can take up to two years for the fibers to reconnect and heal properly.

Many people seek treatment with professional physical therapists to shorten healing time, avoid surgery and pain consultant to deal with the pain and discomfort.

Exercises to Shorten Healing Time

When an injury stops you in your tracks, you will want to regain full mobility as fast as possible. However, any damage relating to the spine can be difficult to rehab on your own. Even after the pain has subsided, re-injury is likely.

Rehabilitation exercises can strengthen the muscles surrounding the tear and other effected structures that may have been weakened due to the trauma. They can also protect the injured area from further damage, helping you heal faster with less pain.


Surgery is a major life event. From the physical damage and pain your body experiences to the emotional toll it takes on most people throughout recovery. For many, it is a life-altering decision.

There are cases where surgery cannot be avoided and is the best course of action. However, if your body can heal on its own, it is always the primary course of action for the patient’s physical and mental well-being.

In most instances, annular tears will heal on their own. 

Pain Management

The spine houses 31 different pairs of nerves and roots which connect to and control nearly every aspect of our body. A tear anywhere along our vertebral column not only affects your spinal cord and mobility but can also cause referred pain depending on the location of the tear. Arms, legs, hips, and feet can all be affected by an injury to the spine.

Along with exercise, the primary treatments for this type of spinal injury are anti-inflammatory medication and heat to relax the surrounding muscles. A physical therapist can also use other modalities to manage pain, including STIM, ultrasound, and hands-on manipulation.

Long Term Health

During your recovery period, you should limit your movement through controlled exercises. These include walking, swimming, cycling, or closed circuit activities like Yoga, Pilates, and Barre. This will strengthen muscles surrounding the tear and help manage pain, getting your full mobility back faster. Be sure to avoid jarring activities such as running, weight lifting, and high-impact sports.

Our spine is responsible for so much of our everyday movement, from lifting to twisting and even sitting upright. A back injury is not only painful but limiting to your daily mobility. Let Dr. Christopher and the expert staff at St. Louis Pain Consultants help get your life back. Schedule a consultation today. We will guide you through your options for treatment.

Injuries are an inevitable part of life, whether they’re caused by overuse, aging, or a traumatic event. By taking the proper steps to care for yourself as you heal, you ensure they don’t follow you for years to come.

If you are living with chronic pain, seek help from St. Louis Pain Consultants.

We want to help remind you what life without pain feels like.

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