How to know if you are a candidate for annular tear surgery

Annular tear surgery is neither necessary nor appropriate for every person who has an annular tear. In many instances, individuals are able to manage their symptoms using a variety of nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. For these people, surgery might not be necessary for several years, or even at all.

The initial evaluation process

Sometimes, a person’s medical history or lifestyle may make surgery a less-than-ideal choice. A surgeon will determine whether a patient is a good candidate for annular tear surgery based on an assessment of the patient’s:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Overall health, including any other chronic conditions
  • Lifestyle, including whether he or she regularly uses tobacco products
  • Ability to participate in daily activities
  • Previous treatment history, including surgical and nonsurgical treatments
  • Specific diagnosis (e.g., where in the spine the annular tear has occurred)

Surgeons also consider the type, duration and severity of the patient’s symptoms when evaluating annular tear surgery as a potential treatment option. People who have been exploring conservative treatments for just a few months may be advised to continue to do so — at least in the short term — while those who have been experiencing persistent symptoms for longer periods of time may be better candidates for surgery. People who are experiencing major neurological complications might also require prompt surgical treatment.

Minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute

There are several different types of neck and back surgery, and each one has its own set of criteria. While there are many potential benefits to choosing minimally invasive surgery instead of a more invasive operation, the right procedure for a patient will depend on a number of factors.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive surgery as an alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery. Our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques, helping to shorten the recovery time, and patients are typically up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^ To learn more about our approach to annular tear surgery or to find out if you’re a candidate, contact us today.