What is an Annular Tear?

Most adults experience back pain and discomfort at some point in their lives. Although this might be normal with aging, some aches could be an indicator of underlying problems. If you are experiencing these issues then a doctor needs to investigate the root cause before prescribing pain management treatment. It could turn out to be something simple, such as a muscle strain, or a severe problem like an annular tear.

An annular tear refers to an injury to the intervertebral disc. Your disc is made of an inner soft core called the nucleus pulposus, and a tough outer core called the anulus fibrosis. The nucleus acts as a shock absorber for the body and degenerates over time. When a tear occurs in the disc’s outer ring, it is referred to as an annular tear.

The tear is too small that you might not even notice or feel any pain. But in other cases, it could lead to significant pain in the neck or back and spine immobility.

Types of Annular Tears

There are three types of annular tears, as we have outlined below:

1. Concentric Tear

A concentric tear takes place in the inner layers of the annulus fibrous around the nucleus.

2. Radial Tear

These annular tears start at the center and extend to the surrounding layers, as the name suggests. They are common with aging patients and can cause disc herniation.

3. Peripheral Tear

Unlike radial tears, peripheral tears begin from the outside layers of the ligament. Another name for peripheral tears is traverse tears. Peripheral tears are often a result of traumatic injury.

Complications of Annular Tears

An annular tear will usually recover on itself. But you might consider seeking the help of a doctor or pain management specialist to help alleviate pain associated with annular tears. Besides, lack of proper care and treatment can lead to complications. Here are some of them:

1. Herniated Disc

The torn disc can herniate if you continue exerting pressure on it. That could be from exercises such as heavy lifting and sports. A herniated disc can lead to intense back or neck pain.

2. Nerve Compression

Should the torn disc herniate or bulge out of place, it could press against adjacent spinal nerves. The compression could lead to symptoms like pain, tingling, and weakness in the arms or legs. This condition is called radiculopathy and often referred to as “sciatica.”

Pain Management and Treatment

In most cases, the doctor can recommend lifestyle changes and conservative treatments. But they might also recommend a more advanced treatment plan. That could include:


Over-the-counter pain killers can help with mild pain and inflammation. If you are in severe pain, your doctor might prescribe more potent pain killers.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps you strengthen your core, thus taking the pressure off your spine. That reduces the chances of future injuries. Physical therapy can also help you improve your body posture.

Corticosteroid Injections

These injections offer pain relief for several weeks or months — but not permanently. Once the injections take effect, you can use that time to kick off therapy sessions.

If these conservative treatments are not effective, you might need spine surgery. Thanks to advancements in technology, there are minimally invasive surgical techniques.

St. Louis Pain Consultants is among the leading and most trusted pain management facilities. Our team of highly trained doctors can help you with all your pain management needs. Contact us today for more information.

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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