Annular Tear L3 L4 Does the Disc Leak?

I had a lifting injury the end of last year and felt something in my low back. It was uncomfortable but didn't think much of it. About a week later when I tried to run had pain shoot down my leg. I rested and it didn't get better. After I saw a spinal specialist got an MRI which confirmed what he called a microtear at L3 L4. When they reviewed the MRI I was told it was a central bulge with no direct nerve impingement. I asked then why am I getting symptoms in my legs?

I was wondering if it was due to the disc leaking fluid. I was told they don't leak they extrude material and it is not shown as impacting the nerves. Online and through another doctor I heard if the disc is torn it can leak fluid that irritates the nerves. Who is right? If it's leaking does occur does that mean I may have a continuously leaking disc in my back that maybe causing my sciatica? 



  • I wish I could shed light on this myself, but honestly, while I've wondered that, too, I haven't got any doctor confirmation on it. I have 2 annular tears, 3 bulging discs in my lumber spine, (+ 3 in my c-spine too) and while I've been told nothing is pressing on my nerves, I too have sciatica pain (+ now tingling in my foot/toes) and no good explanation as to why. (Or even a 'bad' explanation LOL) So yeah, I've considered the annular tears the culprit too. Funny enough, other than reading about them on my MRI report, no one (of the medical persuasion) has ever brought up the tears. It's a frustrating ride, isn't it?! Hopefully someone knows more about this and can share their experiences. I hope we both get some answers (or good theories) soon!!! Hang in there!

  • Yeah it is frustrating but good to know I’m not alone! So one of the surgeons I talked to called it chemical radiculitis. He said it’s a theory and looking it up it looks like some have symptoms related to the tears in the annulus and some are symptom free. We are in the symptomatic group! If the annulus over time heals it might be possible for the symptoms to diminish. Time can help and hope we both are able to find some relief. Definitely interested in hearing other explanations as well. Thank you for the support! 

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  • Interesting that 'chemical radiculitis' is just a theory--shows how little we all know about the mysteries of back pain and injury. Makes a lot of sense though, that the leak from a tear would irritate those very sensitive nerves. It's also very interesting to me how some people are get pain from these (and disk injuries in general) and others do not. Yeah, you are definitely not alone, there seems to be a lot of symptomatic people out there, on this forum especially. Here's to finding that relief. Hope it comes to us both soon. Take care!

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