The intervertebral disk is part of the joint between each of the bones, or vertebra, of the spine. The intervertebral disks cushion the joints and allow them to move correctly. They have a tough, fibrous outer layer and a gel-like inner layer. An annular tear occurs when degeneration or injury causes the outer layer to tear. This is typically painful because there are nerves within the outer layer that are irritated by the exposure to the material in the inner layer.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor will carry out a physical exam to try to determine the source of your pain. He is likely to order an MRI to be able to visualize the tear. Sometimes annular tears cannot be seen on MRI results. In this case, the doctor may carry out a discography, a procedure in which dye is injected into the intervertebral disk to determine if it is damaged.
Cold, then hot compresses