10 annular tear surgery alternatives

Patients with an annular tear, or a tear in the outer layer (annulus fibrosus) of a spinal disc, may worry that annular tear surgery will be necessary to relieve their symptoms. An annular tear may cause muscle weakness, numbness or tingling and neck or back pain – symptoms that have the ability to impact patients’ day-to-day lives when left untreated. However, annular tear surgery is generally used as a last resort, after a variety of conservative treatment methods have been tried but failed to relieve symptoms.

Conservative treatment for an annular tear

A physician will usually first recommend conservative treatment to combat the effects of an annular tear. These methods may include one or more of the following:

  1. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication — to manage pain
  2. Hot/cold therapy — to relax muscles and reduce inflammation
  3. Epidural steroid injections — to reduce inflammation around a compressed nerve which relieves pain and other nerve compression symptoms
  4. Ultrasound therapy — to relieve inflammation
  5. Low-impact exercises — to promote strength and flexibility in the spine

Alternative and complementary treatment

Additionally, patients might try to supplement their physician’s treatment plan with complementary therapies, or they may decide to forego mainstream conservative therapies in favor of alternative medicine. Some of the most common alternative and complementary treatment methods are:

  1. Massage therapy — to relax muscles
  2. Chiropractic care — to realign the spine and relieve stress on a pinched nerve
  3. Yoga or meditation — to promote spinal strength and flexibility, and also promote mental relaxation
  4. Herbal medicines — to reduce inflammation and improve general health
  5. Acupuncture or acupressure — to reduce pain

For many patients, some combination of the above nonsurgical treatments is all that’s necessary to manage their annular tear symptoms. For some, however, several weeks or months of treatment will pass without significant improvement. When this happens, annular tear surgery may be recommended. If you find yourself in this situation, consider the minimally invasive, outpatient procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons have extensive experience performing these state-of-the-art procedures, which are alternatives to traditional open spine surgery. To learn about becoming a candidate for our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can provide you with a no-cost review of your MRI* to determine if you are eligible for our minimally invasive annular tear surgery.