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Annular Tear

Hi Folks,


I'm a 31 year old man with no prior back injuries.  I big into physical fitness, especially weightlifting.  About 2 weeks ago, I was in a rush to get out of the gym and used terrible form on a deadlift.  Snap, crackle, and pop in lower back.  It did not get better after 3-4 days so I went to a spine doctor.  After going through all the protocol, I was diagnosed with an annular tear in l4/l5 (I'm pretty sure that's the location in lower back). 

The pain is bearable since I have a pretty good tolerance.  The problem I'm having is stiffness.  I'm a CPA so I sit all day.  Boy does sitting feel uncomfortable.  Walking is basically the only thing that helps but after sitting for more than say 20 minutes, I cant walk upright until I walk around for awhile.  Since its hard to contact the doc, I was hoping you guys could answer a few questions:

1) I went to the gym for the first time today since it happened 3 weeks ago.  I did not perform any unassisted back exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows.  I'm actually really scared because I'm afraid to relive that dreaded day.  What's a good indication that I can began to lift unrestricted?

2) Is it normal to have a numb feeling in the groin area?  I see that uncontrollable bladder is an emergency but its controllable, just a loss a feeling it seems.

3) Should I wait to be 100% pain free before I run, jump, heavy lifting etc?

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Comments

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745

    hello dale1657

    there are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.

    seek advice from your doctor who knows your medical history

    please click on the link for useful information welcome to spine-health


    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561

    Sitting is the worst with an annular tear.  Its pretty common for the stiffness, you do not give a timeline on how long since but you tore an important structure that for the rest of your life you need to consider.  A disc lack of blood supply and limited healing means you will have a weaker than before disc forever, but that does not mean it cannot be pain free again nor does it mean you cannot lift just have to be smarter now after heal up.  The outer layer of a disc has small nerves and also if the disc is torn to the center then you will likely be leaking out chemicals that irritate the nerves in the area.  There are different levels of tears.  I had a tear in the thoracic area, but the only benefit of that is that area in thoracic is much more stable than lumbar so I was more protected than you would be just be simple body structure, but there are downsides to that area also.  I had an ESI that targeted the tear and it worked wonders, I suffered for years before diagnosed and then more before injection.  Staying in shape and that injection were keys to my feeling better eventually.

    Many doctors do not take them seriously, but I can tell you one caused more pain than a herniation slightly pressing on my spinal cord did in same area.  Almost had wrong surgury on that herniation.

    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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  • @dale1657 I have two annular tears, both of them being a grade 4. I have seen studies done that say if a tear reaches the annulas fibrosis, then it could produce pain. Honestly, I have no idea if mine contribute to my pain because I have so many other issues. This makes it hard to find the true pain generators. 

    That being said, I would definitely contact your doctor before doing any lifting. You don't want to make the tear worse. Mine were graded after a discogram, which I believe is the only way to grade a annular tear. ESI might help with your pain. Has your doctor talked to you about a treatment plan? 



    Retrolisthesis C4 of C5 and C5 of C6
    Spondylolthesis C5/C6
    Disc protrusions with Annular Tears C3/C4, C4/C5, and C5/C6
    Disc Material Compressing Spinal Cord C3/C4
    Severe Forminal Stenosis C5/C6
    DDD
    Ankylosing Spondylitis 
    Annular Tears L3/L4 and L5/S1
    Enlarged Facet Joints/Facet Anthrosis L3/L4/L5
    PLIF with Rods, Cage, and Pedicle Screws-L4/L5
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    edited 07/26/2017 - 11:48 AM

    Same here , discogram was the only way mine was even found, but it was a full tear to the annulus not holding pressure.  Discogram was only done when surgury on table for me because they say it can cause premature degeneration if done on a good disc and they usually do discs above and below the disc in question for a base. I happened to have tears above and below my herniation, yet only one of them caused pain. Why I have no idea ( I speculate it was depth of tear as pressure held more and leaked less on disc with tear that did not hurt), but neither showed on MRI and finding them allowed for the best treatment results I had in a 6-7 year period.

    When I tell you the disc with tear that was pain generator was found there was no guessing, I came off the table when pressure reached to leak dye , even though I was sedated I remember screaming or trying to scream, doctor said you just proved your pain and its location when I was in recovery area.  

    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.
  • I had extreme pain coming from the discs I have tears in too.  Mine were found the same way. I guess I just don't know how much it contributes to my daily pain. 



    Retrolisthesis C4 of C5 and C5 of C6
    Spondylolthesis C5/C6
    Disc protrusions with Annular Tears C3/C4, C4/C5, and C5/C6
    Disc Material Compressing Spinal Cord C3/C4
    Severe Forminal Stenosis C5/C6
    DDD
    Ankylosing Spondylitis 
    Annular Tears L3/L4 and L5/S1
    Enlarged Facet Joints/Facet Anthrosis L3/L4/L5
    PLIF with Rods, Cage, and Pedicle Screws-L4/L5
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  • Hey Liz Im sorry I directed my questions in that manner, I was trying to get other peoples experiences rather than medical opinions.  Sorry if it came across that way!


    Hey Jill and ITS, the Dr was crawling with people so it was a rather quick visit.  He actually didn't seem all that concerned.  He said no jiu jitsu or gym for two weeks.  I waited an extra week on top of the two to be sure.  Its definitely still painful but I've broken too many bones to count so my tolerance is up there.  Its more of an aggregation and stiffness than anything.  I'm really paranoid at the moment is all, all the crunching noises and the way it felt immediately after has me spooked!

  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561

    Yea I was lucky back then to have all my issues confined to the mid thoracic area so all we had to do was narrow down if the herniation was the issue, took years but discogram is such an invasive procedure

    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.
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561

    It's interesting you say that about the crunching noises, I to had the same but after ESI that worked and inflammation chain was broken the crunching is now gone.  I think it has a lot to do with inflammation but that is just what my body and issues told me.

    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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