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Annular tears

cla_guaccla_gua Posts: 186
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Has anyone heard or experienced an annular tear? I hope I have the anatomy right. A tear in the disc. Can it heal? And what kind of pain do you experience with a torn disc?



  • Clarissa i haven't had a torn disc,but did know someone who did have one.she was on hear quite a long time ago and ended up needing surgery for it. she was in a lot of pain at the time and they didn't catch that it was torn for quite a while,some test they did found the leak.hopefully someone else will come along and give you more of an answer. good luck.
  • Thanks Tammy for your response.
  • Yes, I have an annular tear along with several other issues. Will be having surgery.
  • Crash21- Have you been told it would heal (annular tear)? I hope your surgery helps your condition.

    Thanks for your help,
  • Will be seeing NS soon to really go over all the details. I will ask about the tear. However, I am expecting a fusion. So in my case, the answer would be no, it has not healed as I still have impingement on the nerves.
  • Hey Cla_gua,

    I have annular tearing at C 3-4 C 4-5 and C 5-6. In MRI tests it shows the bulging discs there only it does not show the annular tearing.

    On May 5th of this year I had a 4 level discogram (very very painful). The tears were found in this test. It is accompaiied with a CT scan. Besides the tearing of the annulus there are moderate to severe bulges at C 3-6 the worst being C 4-5 and C 5-6 which the discogram show most of the pain coming from. I am in the process of trying to get a date to have ACDF C 4-5 and 5-6. I am about to switch to an Ortho Surgeon. He sent me for an MRI of my rotator cuff and wants a new EMG. I had a Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy at C 3-4 and C 4-5 in January of this year. I was told that I would need later fusion. The foraminotomy only releived a few symptoms and all the rest seem to have gooten worse.

    My Pain Management doc is the only one who has ever said that over time some people will heal from this but I am not sure how. He mentioned some type of thing that is not FDA approved yet that is some type of sealant that make be able to ais in stopping leakage in the future but that does not help us now.

    All I know is I live with arm weakness and lots of burning neck pain that can go into other areas. I have burning pain under the scapula as well. SOmetimes my left arm feels very heavy or feels as if there is a blood pressure cuff around the bicep. Weird feeling.

    Not sure if any of this information will help you but I thought I would give you what little info I have. Remember now I am not a doctor and everyone's body is different and experiences things differently.
    You can always PM me and we can talk more in depth about things. Please feel free to do so anythime.

    SO how did you hurt your neck?? What kinds of symptoms do you have?

    I do know that this has been a tough road for me with the neck injury. When I was in the Car accident I was in the process of closing a 3 1/2 year workers comp case that led me to have 4 arm surgeries on my left arm. I was pain free and all healed in the arm when the MVA happened. I was not even on any pain meds anymore.
    Next thing I know the arm workers comp case is closed and I have traded it for the neck injury.
    Tough road for all of us!!

    Anyway I hope this helps.

  • Hi Chrissy- I hurt my neck last year during the summer. The whole problem was started by a mva. I got an MRI in July of 07. It read two 2mm protrusions on c5-6 and c6-7. I went through pt and improved about 50%. I got two epidurals with no success. I went to an ortho in April and was order a new MRI and it read 2mm protrusion on c5-6 and minimial bulging on c6-7 and c7-t1. Ortho said not to worry I only had a large bulge on c5-6 and two minimials on the other. He said he doesn't know why Radiolisgist throw around protrusion all the time. He also said in about 10 yrs I'll be looking at surgery. By the way I was still in a lot of pain with pain running down both my arms. My PCP Dr sent me to a new PM Dr, who I love, 6 wks ago for trigger point injections. He read my MRI's and said I had an annular tear on c6-7. I didn't get the trigger point injectiosn because I had improved.He said that the MRI was cut so many times that the protrusion or big bulge at c5-6 was shown inaccurate. So who knows what I have. All I do know is that I have really bad muscle spasms still. The arm pain has gotten better.

    I am sorry about your situation. I hope your surgery turns out great.
    Best Wishes,
  • i got the results of my discogram today
    I have two full-thickness radial annular tears at l3-4 level and l4-5 level.

    weve been treating this for the last 14 months... i started with just a central disc bulge at l3-4 14 months ago,.. and now they are saying this..., i am to the point i can hardly sit on my own spine it burns so bad,.,

    i have had more epidural ,shots in the last 12 months than i think a person should have.... ( arent there long term affects of doing to many???)

    what is the recommended course of treatment for annular tears.. because my pain management doctor has been treating me the last 12 months ,. when i met with neurosurgeon in the office today.. he said he wouldnt do consider anything on a one time visit... im like ive been here every 3 weeks for the last 14 months..... ugh.... where does this end up going... i have failed physical therapy, chiro... his big suggestion was aqua therapy...., how does that heal the tear....., i had a l2 bilateral tsf today ( more epidurals) suppossedly could help mask the pain... ,but they havent to date.... help!!????
  • I have had a annular tear fixed,it was a day surgury,the water would help you,warm water will help it heal,i took baths,mine didnt heal on its own,so i had to have surgury,it was quit painfull to sit....
  • tcr1130- I have researched annular tears just a little. What I read is that some do heal. I am sure depending on how bad they are. A side effects of epidural is slow healing process. Cortisone slows down the healing process. My Dr. said I had a small tear in July 07 on c6-5 and MRI in April 08 showed it had healed. He was the first to even mention a tear. Maybe you can get the name of the type of surgery bigcat90 had and run it by your Drs. There are also herbs and supplements you can take to try help the healing. Go to your local vitamin store and ask them what would be good for your annular tears.

    My two epidurals didn't work either. My PM Dr. told me they don't work if your problems are not with your nerves. I hope you find some kind of relief.

    Best Wishes,
  • thank you i will check out the information on chirogeek

    how do you search a persons nickname to find his/her postings?? if i want to go find this bobcat90 surgery like suggessted!!????
  • My husband was dx with a grade 5 annular tear 2 years ago after six months of extreme pain by the time he was dx he was loosing nerve function to his legs with reduced reflexes.

    His surgeron described it like this: If you split an oreo cookie and the middle(white stuff) comes apart uneven this is what an annular tear is like. He told us to tell people it is like breaking a bone same concept. Some do heal but when they are severe they need surgical intervention if the pain does not resolve or it is impinging on a nerve.

    Hope this helps.

  • hello all, I have not had surgery but did find out about this thing called the inclose and xclose. The company is anulex and makes these surgical mesh type repairs. They are fda approves since 2008 I think. I may have had surgery and gotten this had i known about it right after my injury. I am approx 1.5 years since my herniation and dont havea lot of pain but still some mild sciata. I also dont know what the effect of making the little holes in the anulus for the anchors. I dont know if this may lead to deterioriation or not, or if that little patch is just overall a better idea even with any possible damage bc of the anchors installed. Also, if you somehow can get in a trial and get this nucore stuff from spine wave which is like a nucleus replacement gel and also acts as a barrier to prevent more stuff from leaking, that may be very prosising too. Also, dont do any pt exercises on your bed, do them on a firm matt. Also, dont do one where you lay on your back with feet down and then raise back and lift one leg, I did this bc my stupid pt said this is something to do and i am pretty sure it caused a bulge now on my left side. Well anybody who gets this or knows more, please message me , thanks.
  • I had an annual tear L5-S1, it showed in MRI's starting in 2007. My last lumbar MRI earlier this year it had resolved itself.
  • I have bad annular tears on L4-L5 and L5-S1. I had MRI's which showed it only little bulges, weird--- a lot of pain for such a small bulges, so we did a discogram and OH MY GOD YES IT HURT LIKE HELL but it didn't hurt any worse than what I was hurting already! The point of the test is to try to recreate the pain you are having to show the tears. AND so yes, my test was postive in 2 of the 3 discs he injected. The only thing for now they say is a multi level spinal fusion. We'd tried LESI lumbar epidural steroid injection, made me worse. We did a facet joint injection last week, I'm desparate, it was worse than the discogram and I couldn't finish the diagnostic test. We had to quit halfway. I could only take 4 needles, not 8!

    SO i've been in pain for 12.5 months now. I sometimes walk cripped over, and get most pain relief when I DO sit forward, probably part of the reason I injured myself. Sitting forward is the worst thing you can do, and I was born legally blind, so I always sat on an ottoman, about 3 feet in front of the tv, leaving foward. Had no friends, so I became a computer geek, hahaha, and for the next 20 years have continued to sit foward. How else can I see this screen? LOL So I know the pain of having annular tears. The multi level spinal fusion? I'll probably not be able to go through with it.
  • Do these tear leak out some kind of irritating substance that causes the feeling of acidic chemicals that have been injected into the spine?

  • I have grade 4 annular tears in L34 L45 and L5 S1 and have had mixed opinions from doctors about what this means. I am in lots of pain and I feel a fair amount of it is from these tears, along with the DDD and facet issues that goes with them.

    I do know that if your tear gets to the point where its leaking it can be very painful. The disc material is acidic and can cause inflation, nerve pain and muscle spasms. I do know that tears can heal themselves, but not sure if its possible once they get to the point I'm at?

    I have a surgeon in Germany that wants to put in three artificial discs, and I have two US surgeons that dont want surgery done at all because surgery on three discs for pain issues is not worth the risks of surgery. Who knows?? on days where I can function ok and get around fine I'm happy doing nothing, but when I get flare ups that go weeks at a time where I can barely walk, I start to question if I can keep this up. Who knows, time will tell and I know I'm not alone in this.

  • My last MRI didn't show the annular tear like the first one showed it. They didn't do a weighted T image this time I don't know if that makes a difference to see the HD or tear? I have the same symptoms sciatica and the PM Dr. said there was nerve involvement still hoping the steroid injections will help heal the tear. Honestly after 2 years of disabling pain and not being able to work I think I would've benefited from a microdisectomy and then they could of fixed the a. tear while in there. But the risks of surgery I guess weren't an option for me. Here's to another round of shots. Ho're you doing Clarissa? Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Hi Charry,
    It's so funny the differences in the treatments we all get--many of us have the same things going on, yet we get different treatments.
    For instance, Charry, you say you have an annular tear. Just one? Forgive me if I get it wrong, I've been reading so many threads! Okay, so one tear. I have 2. My Neurologist/PM dr. said epidurals would not help me. I don't understand why, but I had one done anyways, and it only made me worse.
    People who have bulging discs swear by those epi's, but when you have annular tears, I guess it's different.
    I don't understand why my dr. didn't recommend or even mention this miscrodiscectomy thing, maybe my discs were not bulging enough against the nerve? I don't know!! Maybe it's because I have 2 torn discs? I guess every BODY is different.

    Wow...knowledge IS power.

  • I do understand how hard it is to keep wondering if you can keep it up. I'm the same way. If doctors would just educate me a bit, I'd feel so much more secure in their care and decision making. Playing dumb with a patient doesn't instill warm fuzzies.

  • I try to read up all I can, but sometimes when you don't understand the words, it's hard to understand much at all. But it slowly sinks in. Having the Internet has given us so much knowledge out there, it's wondering, especially to be able to be in touch with others like you guys, who have the same problems.
  • can you have a normal mri read - but still have annular tears....from all the information i read, and symptoms - i am wondering if there is an annular tear in my thoracic.....each time i have done PT I have only gotten much worse - the pm doc would then put a halt to it, but still no releif in pain.

    what qualifiers do you need to request, suggest to have the discogram test to rule this out? I do understand it is not a "fun" test...but i have been thru the RAf from the c2 to t4 - and honestly, if it would help to figure this out I am game for it.

  • MRI's often times don't pick up annular tears. On my MRI it showed one annular tear and and when I had my discogram it showed three. Discogram is the only way I know of to show annular tears well, but unless surgery is an option I'm not sure if its worth going through the discogram to find it?

  • I have been researching this technology because I was looking into doing the surgery with it. Here are some links to check out for more information:


  • I have an Annlar tear due to degenrative disc compression in C4/C5. i got hit by a drunk driver 2 years ago, when i was only 18. my MRI report came back normal, but then my doctor looked at the scans him self and stated that the techs that write the reports dont know what they are looking for, so it is very easy to miss it. i have an Ep.shot next week in a hospital...any pointers?
  • clarissa,
    I have a tear on my disk and I was told that not a thing could be done no surgery. I am currently on pain patch call fenatayl and on 50 strength it helped but now i need to go to a higher dosage and am afraid of doing so because I just don't know how long the next one would last until I needed to go higher..If anyone has any info... Please reply hope you have found better anwers Clarissa.

  • OMG!!! i have a torn annular L1, never experience this kinda pain in my life this been going on since 11/09/2011 since then i lost my job in this bad economy unable to work i fell into depression i'm angry and confused.
  • I just got my MRI results back: What does this mean (the neurologist said it was a torn muscle).........a right foraminal zone annular tear - not seen very well. At L3,4, there is mild foraminal narrowing........symmetric disc bulging. Facet Joint hypertrophy/arthropathy. Other levels have disc bulging. What do you think? Should I go ahead and get cortisone or just swim and do exercises? (I have outside right thigh numbness and pain pulsating all the way down the right leg to the big toe when I sit. When I stand the numbness is worse.
    Thanks, brownsnest
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