Radial annular disc tear
A radial disc tear begins in the center of a disc and extends to the outer layers of the annulus. A complete radial tear leaves a person more susceptible to developing a herniated disc.
Peripheral annular disk tear
A peripheral disk tear affects the outermost layers of the annulus and is most often the result of sudden, unexpected trauma. Many people with a peripheral annular disc tear experience accelerated wear of the affected disc.
Concentric annular disk tear
A concentric disk tear develops and remains contained inside the annulus. It is often caused by a hard impact injury from sports or a car accident leading to inflammation of the spine, a pinched nerve, stenosis, and osteoarthritis.
Causes of an annular disc tear
A disc tear is most commonly the result of:
A bone spur is a bony knob that forms on the ends of bones due to increased inflammation. While bone spurs are not harmful in themselves, when they extend into the discs they increase the chance of causing a rupture.
High-impact jobs like construction, nursing, and sports require constant heavy lifting, resulting in overuse of the spinal column, vertebrae, and discs.
Millions of people suffer a traumatic injury at some point in their life, whether it be due to a sports-related injury, work accident, or automobile accident.
What are the symptoms of an annular disk tear?
Many people suffering from an annular tear do not experience symptoms of numbness, tingling, or pain. However, those who do develop symptoms may experience pain in the neck, back, or spine as well as numbness, tingling, spasms, or muscle cramping.
Symptoms of an annular disk tear vary depending on the location of the tear and may include:
Lumbar disk tear symptoms
The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae in the lower area of the back, located between the ribs and pelvic bone. It is home to intervertebral discs, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and ligaments. An annular disk tear in the lumbar spine produces symptoms of:
Sciatic pain that radiates to the legs or buttocks
Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the legs
A decrease in flexibility or movement in the back
Cervical disc tear symptoms
The neck region or cervical spine is composed of 7 bones separated by intervertebral discs. A disk tear in this region of the spine may leave a person to suffer from:
Tingling, weakness, and numbness in the arms
A decrease in movement or flexibility in the neck
The absence of symptoms when suffering from an annular disk tear does not mean the tear is any less severe. Continual or repetitive pressure on the affected area can worsen the tear and potentially lead to a bulging or herniated disc.
Though the annular discs found in the spine are elastic and jelly-filled to allow for adequate, flexible movements, they begin to dry out as you age. When the exterior annulus becomes too dry, it can develop a small, seemingly harmless crack. However, when a crack forms, the jelly-like interior rushes to the affected area, worsening the small tear.