Deuk Spine Full Logo
Free MRI Review

Annular Fissure Assessment and Treatment — Annular Disc Tear

Deuk Spine Web Team
An expert in all things spine, Dr. Deukmedjain is a board certified neurosurgeon who has performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries and procedures including the revolutionary Deuk Laser Disc Repair and the Deuk Spinal Fusion. 

A lack of one or more layers of the annulus fibrosus results in an annular fissure or tear. The majority of annular fissures have no symptoms, although some can hurt. Granulation tissue, in-growth of nerve endings close to the dorsal root ganglion, and/or disc herniation of the nucleus pulposus can all contribute to chronic pain caused by annular fissures. In addition to reviewing the diagnosis and treatment of this problem, this exercise also emphasizes the importance of the interprofessional team in treating patients with annular disc rips and enhancing long-term results.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms outlined in this article, it’s time to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with Deuk Spine Institute. We will help relieve your pain and get you back to living your life without limitations!


  • Explain the pathophysiology, consequences, and causation of annular disc tears.
  • Indicate how patients with annular disc tears will be evaluated.
  • The treatment options for patients with annular disc rips, both conservative and interventional, should be explained.
  • Use an organized interprofessional team approach to give patients with annular disc rips prompt and efficient therapy.

Introduction to Annular Fissure

A lack of one or more layers of the annulus fibrosus results in an annular fissure or tear. The majority of annular fissures have no symptoms, although some can hurt. Granulation tissue or the in-growth of nerve endings typically observed close to the dorsal root ganglia, may cause chronic pain caused by annular fissures. Additionally, an annular fissure may permit the nucleus pulposus to protrude, as in the case of disc herniation, and may compress nearby nerves. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and low-impact physical therapy are typically used to treat simple symptomatic annular fissures without disc herniation.

Etiology of Annular Fissure

About 15 to 20 layers of type I collagen make up the annulus fibrosus, which surrounds the nucleus pulposus. The intervertebral is comprised of the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus, and it sits between two neighboring vertebrae. The inferior endplate of the superior vertebra is connected to the superior endplate of the inferior vertebra by the annulus fibrosus, which runs obliquely between their margins. Because the layers of the annulus fibrosus alternate in their directions, the annulus fibrosus is stronger. The nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus converge close to the center. Because there are more vertically oriented fibers on the posterolateral side of the annulus fibrosus, there is a relative focal weakenireMostof annular fissures are located in the posterior or posterolateral aspect of the annulus fibrosus, which is explained by the architecture of the annulus fibrosus.

Epidemiology of Annular Disc Tear

An annular tear is frequently seen during imaging for various reasons in asymptomatic people. Depending on the diagnostic criteria and imaging techniques used to detect an annular tear, estimates for annular tears in adults range from a few percent to as much as 50%.

Pathophysiology of Annular Disc Tear

More significant amounts of collagen fibers with a vertical orientation can be found on the posterolateral side of the annulus fibrosus. Alternating obliquely oriented layers are present in different areas of the annulus fibrosus. As a result, focal annulus fibrosus deficiencies and ripping or separation between the vertically oriented fibers are more likely to occur in the posterolateral region where the fibers are vertically aligned.

Physical and Historical Details

Most annular fissures and rips are accidentally found on imaging and have no symptoms. Asymptomatic annular fissure or tear may result in either regional pain from the tear or radicular symptoms from irritation of the passing nerve root. If the annular fissure develops more slowly than expected, the discomfort may be more chronic or intense depending on when the tear occurs. If the annular fissure is symptomatic locally, it may cause localized, intense pain that gets worse with motions that can aggravate or stress the specific annular tear.

In such circumstances, the radicular nerve is unaffected, and a physical examination may not reveal anything.

Radiculopathy may occasionally result from an annular tear that has irritated the traversing nerve. If the annular fissure or tear is large enough, the disc material may herniate and irritate or compress the spinal cord or transverse nerves. Depending on the severity of the traversing nerve irritation or impairment, either situation might result in radicular symptoms such as pain, paresthesia, and/or weakening.

Assessment of Annular Fissure

An annular fissure may involve some or all of the strata and might have a concentric, transverse, or radial direction. Due to the relative increase in water content at the fissure compared to the normal annulus fibrosus, the annular fissure appears brighter on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) T2 sequence than the rest of the annulus fibrosus, which is typically hypointense or black. An annular fissure or annular tear must be present even if it cannot be seen on the imaging because there must be herniation of intravertebral disc material in order for the annulus fibrosus to be incompetent. As a result, whenever an intervertebral disc herniation is discovered, an annular fissure or annular tear might be assumed.

A computed tomogram (CT) myelogram may reveal nerve root or cord compression from a disc protrusion if a patient is unable to undergo an MRI. The CT scan is less sensitive than MRI because it cannot detect the edema of an annulus fibrosus tear or fissure.

Management and Treatment Options

An annular fissure or tear may or may not present any symptoms. Symptomatic annular fissures can develop with or without protrusion or herniation of the intervertebral disc. Below, each entity is covered separately.

An Unnoticed Annular Tear

If the annular tear or fissure is discovered by chance, most frequently during an MRI scan, no treatment is necessary. Such annular fissures usually result from the strains placed on the spine and may resolve spontaneously over time. Although it is hypothesized that some asymptomatic annular tears may develop into symptoms over time, there is presently no conclusive proof that treating asymptomatic annular tears helps or helps to avoid any problems in the future.

Annular Tear with Symptoms but No Disc Protrusion or Herniation

A disc protrusion or herniation is not necessary for an annular fissure or rupture to cause symptoms. The annulus fibrosus rip or fissure is thought to cause localized inflammatory responses that irritate nearby nerve fibers or transverse nerve roots. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and low-impact physical therapy are the mainstays of treatment for such conditions. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may aid in reducing the inflammatory response at the annular fissure, which in turn reduces stimulation or irritation of nearby nerve fibers or traversing nerve roots. Strengthening core muscles with low-impact physical therapy may help reduce the stresses that may have caused the annular fissure or tear in the first place. Some claim that transforaminal steroid injections could speed up relief.

According to some, the site of an annulus fibrosus tear or fissure that has been present for a long time may develop granulation tissue. A radicular pattern of symptoms can result from either irritation or compression of the traversing nerve root by this local granulation tissue. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and low-impact physical therapy, as mentioned above, with or without transforaminal steroid injection, are the first-line treatments for such conditions.

Some experts believe decompression of the nerve with a foraminotomy may prevent further deterioration and relieve the symptoms in longer-standing cases or situations with weakening or advancement. Some people have proposed removing the actual granulation tissue.

Annular Tear with Disc Protrusion or Herniation with Symptoms

The protruding or herniated disc material itself typically generates clinical symptoms when there is disc protrusion or herniation. In these situations, the annular fissure or tear is not addressed; rather, the patient is treated for disc protrusion or herniation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and local injections are examples of conservative treatments for disc protrusion or herniation. Laminotomy, laminectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy, fusion, or a combination of these surgical treatment options should be taken into consideration if symptoms don’t get better, get worse, or the patient gets weaker. There is no strong evidence to support the claim that a discectomy significantly affects a patient’s long-term prognosis by closing an annular fissure, tear, or annulotomy.

Varying Diagnosis

  • Diverticulitis
  • infected epidural and subdural spaces
  • shingles herpes
  • A mechanical backache
  • Nephrolithiasis
  • Emergency medicine treatment for osteomyelitis
  • Trauma to the pelvis in emergency medicine
  • inflamed vulvar tissue
  • arthritis rheumatoid
  • Aplastic anemia
  • Access: Prognosis
  • Mechanical back pain has a benign natural course that goes away on its own.

The Prognosis of

The long-term and intermediate prognosis is favorable with conservative treatment even in cases of lumbar disc prolapse without neurological impairments. It would be preferable to use surgical management if the patient has neurological impairments.

Potential Complications

  • Coccygeal syndrome
  • Medullary syndrome of the CONUS
  • if the patient is immobile owing to paralysis, deep vein thrombosis, bedsores, atelectasis, and urinary infection may develop.
  • neurological and motor impairments
  • neurological sensory deficiencies

Education and Deterrence for Patients

Patients need to be aware of their responsibility to:

  • Take medications as directed.
  • Limit your physical activity as recommended
  • Avoid tasks that require a lot of spine movement.

Improving Results of Hospital Teams and Staff

Annular tears are rather typical and frequently accompanied by low back pain.

It can be challenging to identify an annular tear and link it to symptoms. Many individuals with modest annular rips appear with no symptoms, and some patients with minimal annular tear signs come with terrible low back pain. So a comprehensive neurological examination is crucial.

The choice to order imaging tests is based on how severe the symptoms are. However, effective clinical judgment is also needed when treating annular tears. Many people do get better with conservative therapy like losing weight, exercising frequently, quitting smoking, adopting safe lifting skills, wearing safety gear at work and in sports, and leading a less sedentary lifestyle. The orthopedic nurse should aid in educating the patient and family about lifestyle modifications that will reduce the likelihood of additional tears and promote recovery. It could be necessary for the pharmacist to offer advice on how to manage pain.

The Deuk Spine Institute encourages and welcomes you to contact us today regarding any questions or concerns you may have regarding your current situation. 

​​If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the preceding symptoms outlined, it is imperative to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with the Deuk Spine Institute. We can help relieve your pain and get you back to living your life without limitations!

Cure your back and neck pain once and for all.

Deuk Laser Disc Repair has patients back on their feet within an hour, feeling zero pain
Speak With a Surgeon
Want A Free 
MRI Review?
Our world-class surgeons at Deuk Spine Institute are standing by to review your MRI and provide a recommendation on the best way to get you out of pain, permanently. 
Start Your Free MRI Review
Dr. Deuk on a transparent background
About Deuk Spine Institute
World leader in Laser Spine Surgery
With world-class physicians on staff, the newest and most advanced technology, and a patient experience pathway that is unrivaled in it’s efficiency and and pedagogy of care, Deuk Spine Institute has performed thousands of procedures and achieves a 95% success rate in elimination of pain.

 The services we offer are not offered anywhere else in the world, and the treatments are curative, not palliative.  On top of that, Dr. Deukmedjian is personally invested in the well-being of each and every patient, and has spared no expense to guarantee the best possible outcomes.
Schedule Your Consultation
Viera: 7955 Spyglass Hill Rd Melbourne, FL 32940

Titusville: 494 N Washington Ave Titusville, FL 32796
© 2021 Deuk Spine Institute