When is surgical intervention necessary for an annular tear?

An annular tear occurs when a disc between the spinal vertebrae rips or tears. This condition can cause pain in the disc, as well as radiating weakness, numbness and discomfort. Patients who are considering annular tear surgery have usually tried a range of nonsurgical treatment options to address their symptoms, such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and chiropractic care. Although these methods are effective for most people, some find more meaningful relief through the surgical approaches described in the following article.

What annular tear surgery addresses

In many cases, patients who choose to have annular tear surgery actually have ruptured discs. Annular tears don’t always cause severe symptoms by themselves beyond localized pain, but tears can worsen, allowing the inner gel-like center of a disc to leak into the spinal canal. That gel can inflame tissues and place pressure on the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root, causing any number of problems along the affected nerve’s pathway.

For this reason, surgery often involves alleviating pressure or decompressing trapped nerves. This goal can be met by removing part or all of an affected disc. Cases that involve total removal of a disc may also include the placement of an artificial disc or a spinal fusion procedure as a way of stabilizing the spinal column.

Different surgical approaches for an annular tear

Although the general goal of annular tear surgery remains largely the same no matter the specific approach, patients should understand that there are two main types of surgery available to them — traditional open spine surgery and minimally invasive surgery, which is a safer and effective alternative that is offered by Laser Spine Institute.^ To find out more about Laser Spine Institute’s approach to annular tear surgery, contact us today.

As compared to traditional open spine surgery, some of the benefits of Laser Spine Institute’s muscle-sparing procedures include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Shorter recovery times^
  • Our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis
  • Reduced risk of complications and infections^

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Through a no-cost MRI review* of your spine, we can evaluate your condition to see if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive annular tear surgery.