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Annular tear / 21 Years Old - Looking for Information

Hi All,

I'll be as clear as i can!! Hopefully someone can help.

In December i was in the Gym and everything was fine, got to work and it felt funny to sit down. The pain never really subsided. I stopped working my back as that is where the pain was coming from and stopped squatting and deadlifting completely.

I saw my Doc who suspected bulging disc and sent me with some painkillers to a physio who didn't really have a clue what it was.

I finally persuaded my Doc to let me have an MRi - It showed an L5-S1 Annular tear (only small tear supposedly) so i have no sciatica or anything, Although i do have slight discomfort in my top left buttock.

I have laid of the gym for a while but still experience a shooting pain in spine every so often, plus i still suffer from consistent muscle spasms since and can't really lift anything heavy or bend over with anything heavy without pain.

**Just as a side question, a few weeks ago i was lifting something from the ground and experienced an extreme stabbing pain my back which made my drop the item and i could barely walk or sit for days (Doc suspected muscle strain) - Do these symptoms sound correct for a muscle strain, or is it more likely that the tear is worse??

What i am wanting to know is, (i am seeing a new physio btw and training my core) i have read on this website that the tear with never "heal"

What exactly happens then? Can i ever get back to the gym work? - Would it not just heal but with scar tissue, or does it mean that the tear will always be open?

If anyone can explain what the healing process is of the tear it would much appreacited.

Does the tear heal up to 99% but the last 1% doesn't close or something? I'm just so confused and frustrated

Kind Regards
Taylor
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Comments

  • konceptkkoncept Posts: 4
    edited 08/11/2014 - 1:06 AM
    Thank you for the welcome and your post regarding the treatment options,

    I find looking at posts like this somewhat frustrating as in most cases every case is different. I'm hoping that someone can answer my personal specific questions but if there is anything i have done wrong in regards to the rules please kindly let me know :)
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,883
    edited 08/11/2014 - 1:27 AM
    You haven't violated any rule.
    Nobody is qualified to give you the advice you want, as you say everyone is difference members can tell you what they have experienced themselves.

    There are lots of threads on the forum covering this condition, you can use the search box to find them while waiting to see what response you get to your thread.

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • notprettynnotpretty Posts: 5
    edited 08/12/2014 - 5:03 PM
    Unfortunately a tear to the disc will not "Heal" back to pre-tear condition. The disc has no blood flow and thus cannot repair itself. An analogy is the meniscus of the knee. Once torn its won't heal. So, I think your real question is what can I do now. Well, the options are many and nobody here probably is comfortable giving you specific advice as to how you should proceed. I certainly am not a doctor and don't want to give such advice. I will tell you what the typical options are in your described situation... Typically you'll be told first try rest and try to get the spasms to fade. Some say physical rehab, some say anti-inflamitory medication and rest for 10 days. Others will say pain meds. Others will say give it time and see if such a small tear resolves itself...meaning settles and seals itself. Others might say if pain remains and spasms are constant and none of the prior helps then surgery to address the bulg/tear is the only recourse. Others will say someone young as you are should avoid the surgery as long as you can. Others will say...Because you are young...do the surgery. There are multiple types of surgery...some far more invasive than others. Micro surgery might be suggested. Others might suggest depending on location and severity, discectomy is needed. So, all this is vague...all this is frustrating...because there are so many cases with so many variables and some many solutions. My first surgery was age 20...and I've never been great since and I'm 47 now. There are plenty that have been fine. Get a good doctor, get the best info you can, try everything before you jump in the surgery boat because you can't go back after that. Good luck. Marlon
    Marlon
  • konceptkkoncept Posts: 4
    edited 08/12/2014 - 10:37 PM
    notpretty said:
    Unfortunately a tear to the disc will not "Heal" back to pre-tear condition. The disc has no blood flow and thus cannot repair itself. An analogy is the meniscus of the knee. Once torn its won't heal. So, I think your real question is what can I do now. Well, the options are many and nobody here probably is comfortable giving you specific advice as to how you should proceed. I certainly am not a doctor and don't want to give such advice. I will tell you what the typical options are in your described situation... Typically you'll be told first try rest and try to get the spasms to fade. Some say physical rehab, some say anti-inflamitory medication and rest for 10 days. Others will say pain meds. Others will say give it time and see if such a small tear resolves itself...meaning settles and seals itself. Others might say if pain remains and spasms are constant and none of the prior helps then surgery to address the bulg/tear is the only recourse. Others will say someone young as you are should avoid the surgery as long as you can. Others will say...Because you are young...do the surgery. There are multiple types of surgery...some far more invasive than others. Micro surgery might be suggested. Others might suggest depending on location and severity, discectomy is needed. So, all this is vague...all this is frustrating...because there are so many cases with so many variables and some many solutions. My first surgery was age 20...and I've never been great since and I'm 47 now. There are plenty that have been fine. Get a good doctor, get the best info you can, try everything before you jump in the surgery boat because you can't go back after that. Good luck. Marlon
    Thanks for this, as you have mentioned that it will not heal back to its to pre-tear condition. Does this mean that there is always an open tear in the disc? Or does this mean that the tear will close, but will not go back to normal strength wise thus becoming more prone to re-tearing?

    The idea of surgery scares me to be honest. I do not want surgery and will do everything before i even consider that option.

    I went and saw my physio again last night who tells me that obviously a tear is very tricky. He has given me some core strengthening work to do to help relieve everything in a sense that my core will be stronger allowing my spine to be held in place easier and firmer.


  • I messed up my l5-s1 disc in my early 20's. I kept lifting weights and doing stupid stuff that kept injuring the disc over the years. Now here I am at 29 with degenerative disc disease, which means my disc is losing its water content and slowly shriveling up. That means great pain that, on bad days, can be debilitating. If I were you, I would keep working on my core to stabilizing the lower back and completely avoid heavy duty weight training, especially dead lifts and squats. I'm sure there are some gym rats on here who will tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. But TRUST ME- you don't want to mess up your l5-s1 more than it already is. Get into a low-impact exercise routine. If your l5-s1 keeps getting beaten down, you might find yourself in a situation similar to mine.
  • Radicle28RRadicle28 Posts: 1
    edited 09/25/2015 - 8:51 AM
    I was drawn to your enquiry by accident. I hope you've found the right medical advice and are doing better now. As a 35 year old who's recently been diagnosed with annular tears and herniation at l5-s1 and l4-l5 I can certainly understand your worry. But here's what I discovered after switching 4 doctors to get the correct diagnosis:
    1) Annular tears do heal. If you're lucky and the nucleus pulposa (the stuff inside the disc) hasn't leaked out the recovery is relatively faster. In my case it had leaked. Even if this happens, the body takes a few weeks to re-absorb the stuff and heal the tear. However since there is no blood supply to the discs something called a scar tissue forms at the ruptured part of the disc to repair it. This tissue is however weaker and much more susceptible to injury and tears than the original.
    2) I was diagnosed through an MRI and was put on a conservative method of treatment involving pain meds, hot water fomentation and bed rest. There are certain postures I have been advised against for at least a couple of years. These include squatting on the floor, sitting cross legged, sleeping in a car, bending down from the waist etc.
    3) Since my pain has finally subsided I am now due to undergo a course of physiotherapy. Post this i have been advised to take on gentle, low impact activities to increase fitness levels and back extension exercises to strengthen the back muscles that keep the discs in place.
    4) back strengthening exercises can never be done in isolation. Core strengthening is very important.

    Hope this helps

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  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,933
    edited 09/26/2015 - 2:14 AM
    The reason a tear causes pain is inflammation , unless piece on nerve root, but the disc trying to heal the tear has inflammatory chemicals leaking out and the nerves around disc are very sensitive. The key is inflammation control. I had several confirmed leaking and painful by discogram. An ESI next to the tear has made that tear a thing of the past. Break the inflammation and it increases healing chances
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
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