Between each vertebra in the cervical spine lies a round disc that allows for comfort and controlled motion. These intervertebral discs are made out of two important parts; the annulus fibrosis is the sturdy outer wall of the disc, and the nucleus pulposus is the gel-like center. These discs become less pliable over time, as the annulus fibrosis becomes frail and the nucleus pulposus dehydrates and stiffens. This occurrence puts the disc at risk for injuries and certain conditions, including an annular tear in the neck.
An annular tear in the neck is the result of a weakened cervical disc. When a disc in the neck becomes destabilized over time, the outer layer, also known as the annulus fibrosis, may crack or tear. When this tough, exterior wall cracks open the nucleus pulposus may seep out, leading to other symptoms.
What causes an Annular Tear in the Neck?
Like many conditions of the spine, an annular tear in the neck is often caused by degeneration. This degeneration is common and a natural part of the aging process. An Annular tear in the neck can also be caused by trauma. Sometimes, a bulging disc may result in an annular tear. Any weakened, thinning and dehydrated discs in the cervical spine increase the likelihood of sustaining annular tears in the neck.
Degenerative discs are exceptionally common in adults, making an annular tear in the neck quite common as well. Individuals with a degenerating spine are certainly at risk for a cervical annular tear. However, people who have endured some sort of trauma to the cervical vertebrae may be more at risk for this condition, along with individuals who are overweight.
Symptoms of a Neck Annular Tear
Patients may experience various symptoms of an annular tear in the neck, depending on the severity and level of the tear. Inflammation is a common reaction, which causes neck pain in the area of the tear. Sometimes, the nucleus pulposus fluid may seep out of a crack in the annulus fibrosis, which puts pressure on the surrounding nerves and/or spinal cord. The following symptoms associated with this situation can be extremely painful and uncomfortable:
- Neck pain
- Numbness and tingling
- Pain that radiates along a nerve path
The MISI Approach to Annular Tear Treatments
From physical therapy to medication, Minimally Invasive Surgical Institute offers numerous treatment options for many neck and back conditions. From anti-inflammatory medications to chiropractic treatment to steroid injections, MISI offers plenty of alternative treatments to alleviate the symptoms of an annular tear in the neck. However, if these alternative treatments have proven to be unsuccessful, we offer the most advanced, minimally invasive options to alleviate your discomfort caused by an annular tear.
At MISI, we take a different approach to treatment and utilize minimally invasive techniques. This means, both non surgically and surgically, we are able to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with annular tears in the neck or other regions of the spine. For more information about our approach to minimally invasive treatments for cervical annular tears, visit our treatment page.
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.