TORN DISC (ANNULAR TEAR)
DISC REPAIR OPTIONS
WHAT IS A TORN DISC?
A torn disc usually refers to the tearing of the outer layer of the spinal disc called the annular tissue. The annular tissue is the tough outer shell that contains a soft gel like substance called the nucleus.
WHAT CAUSES A TORN DISC?
The most common causes of a torn disc are aging and trauma. People with a family history of torn discs may also be more susceptible.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PREVENT A TEAR?
A person can reduce their susceptibility to disc tearing by refraining from smoking, exercising, maintaining good posture, and preserving a healthy body weight.
IF I HAVE A TORN DISC, WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT I NOTICE?
Some people experience no noticeable difference. If symptoms do occur, they are usually in the neck or the lower back. In the neck, pain is felt near the injured disc, through the shoulder and down the arm into the hand. This may include numbness and tingling in the arm and/or hand, muscular weakness in the arm, muscle spasms, or loss of coordination.
If the torn disc is in the lower back, symptoms may be experienced at the site of injury and travel down the leg to the foot. This may include numbness, tingling, muscular weakness, muscle spasms, symptoms of sciatica (pain caused by nerve compression), and loss of coordination.
WHEN SHOULD I CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR?
A doctor should be consulted when the level of pain is affecting your quality of life.
HOW IS A TORN DISC TREATED?
A torn disc can be helped in many ways. Symptoms may be relieved in some people by light aerobic exercise, massage, acupuncture, or over the counter pain medications such as Advil, Aleve, or Ibuprofen. Other may require more aggressive treatment such as ice and heat, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. It is only after conservative treatment options have been exhausted that a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be considered.