Tearing of the strong exterior layer of the intervertebral disc is called an annular tear. The exterior layer of the disc is called the annulus fibrosis, and it acts as a shock absorber between the vertebrae of the spine. Discs in the vertebrae support and strengthen the structures of the back and neck.

Annular tears often occur because of repetitive activity like standing or sitting. They can also be caused by trauma, like sports injuries, automobile accident injuries or accidents in the workplace.

Types of annular tears

There are three different types of annular tears, each having varying degrees of severity relating to the manner in which the layers of annulus fibrosus are being torn.

  • Concentric tears. Caused most commonly by injury, these tears create separation in the membrane layers protecting the disc.
  • Peripheral tears. These tears occur on the outside of the disc, and commonly contribute to disc degeneration.
  • Radial tears. This type of disc tear spans the height of the disc and extends outward from the center. Radial tears happen naturally with aging. They’re a common cause of disc herniation.

Diagnosing an annular tear

The most effective way to identify an annular tear is via discogram. The problematic disc is injected with a dye that helps determine the cause of pain and the location of the possible tear.

Annular tear treatment

Depending on the severity of the tear, Deuk Spine Institute may use a number of treatments to provide relief — including Deuk Laser Disc Repair.