Disc Inflammation (Annular Tear)
Updated: Apr 8
DISC INFLAMMATION (ANNULAR TEAR)
Our spinal discs are strong ligaments that connect our vertebral segments. The discs allow for mobility of the spine and shock-absorbtion. Each disc has a strong outer later called the annulus, and a soft, jelly-like center, called the nucleus. The strong annular fibers contain the nucleus and distribute pressure evenly across the disc.
Just like other tissue, discs are subseptible to injury. The outer annulus can often become strained and suffer micro tearing or even rupture . If it tears and no disc material is ruptured, this is called an annular tear or strain. The outer 1/3 of the disc’s annular ring is highly innervated with pain fibers. Thus, if a tear involves the outer 1/3 it may be extremely painful. This tear will heal with scar tissue over time but is more prone to future tears and injury. Thus, making the area more vulnerable and prone in earlier onset of degenerative changes.
Most annular tears are caused by 2 common ways, 1) age-related degenerative changes. By the age of 30, our intervertebral discs have begun to degenerate to a certain degree. This degeneration can lead to annular tears with repetitive micro trauma. 2) traumatic injury can cause an annular tear. This, typically seen in sports such as gymnastics or weight lifting, and in people with strenuous occupations.
Midline low back pain, with widespread muscular guarding (spasms). Pain is often worse when sitting compared to standing. Pain on coughing, sneezing, forward bending and lifting.
If the disc injury is mild, then it often heals pretty fast with the correct treatment and advice. Conservative treatment is often sufficient for healing of most of the tears. However, if patient experiences a very bad disc injury and severe pain is felt, treatment may be longer established. Surgery is very rare and an absolute last resort of exhausting all other methods. Less than 3% of our patients here at Dynamic Osteopaths are referred for spinal surgery for disc tears.
The goal of conservative treatment is to provide pain relief, restore functional mobility as soon as possible with the long term goal of working preventative of reoccurrence of disc herniation.
Disc injuries are relative to neck also.
Conservative treatment sometimes includes pain medications or NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen alongside osteopathic treatment and physical therapy.
Below is a video showing how discs can become injured:
Exercises For Annular Tear
It is important to stay relatively active alongside appropriate rest for healing of the annular tear. Discs respond to movement. So, it is important to do some low impact exercises under the guidance of your osteopath, such as:
Lying knee hugs
Swimming (when tolerated)
Further specific exercises (below) can be adopted when tolerated
Therapy ball can be used to strengthen the core muscles
Exercising on an elliptical trainer
Patient can also use a recumbent stationary bike for exercising the muscles of the legs
PLEASE FOLLOW LINK HERE FOR SPECIFIC SPINAL REHABILITATION FOLLOWING DISC INJURY