Understanding the problem
An annular tear is a common side effect of the natural deterioration of the spine. The discs in the spine rest between the vertebrae, acting as shock absorbers to cushion the vertebrae and joints as the spine jostles and moves throughout the day. In order to maintain their proper support and shape, the discs are made of a thick inner gel and a tough, elastic outer layer.
As time goes on and the spine undergoes pressure from weight gain and stress, the discs can become pressed and squeezed between the vertebrae, pushing the inner disc fluid against the elastic outer layer. A healthy disc will hold the proper position under pressure by allowing the elastic outer layer to push in the inner disc fluid and hold it in place. However, after years of pressure and stretching, the elasticity in the outer layer may dissolve, allowing the inner disc fluid to form small rips and tears in the outer layer. This is called an annular tear.
Understanding who suffers
An annular tear is one of the most common degenerative spine conditions that develop with the natural aging process of the spine. In fact, many people over the age of 50 have an annular tear and never know it.
Many times, an annular tear is caused by the natural deterioration of the spine, as mentioned above. This involves slow pressure and gradual tearing of the disc.
Other times, an annular tear is caused by a more sudden condition, such as:
Potential Signs and Symptoms
Annular tear symptoms can develop when the tough outer layer of a disc rips, allowing the inner disc fluid to seep out and impact a nearby nerve root.
The most common symptoms that develop with an annular tear include:
- Weakness in the arms and/or legs
- Pain in the neck or back
Examinations Usually Required
The following tests are typically performed in order to diagnose an annular tear:
- Physical exam - A physician will test a patient's strength and reflexes to determine the extent of the injury. This is especially important since an annular tear in the lower back can lead to other conditions, such as sciatica, which can decrease the muscle strength in the legs or feet.
- MRI - Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to present a detailed image of the neck and back.
Proposing Treatment and Why AIMIS
An annular tear can progress to a herniated disc, otherwise known as prolapsed or ruptured disc. This occurs when the outer wall of an intervertebral disc develops a tear and the inner disc gelatinous material, leaks into the spinal canal. Symptoms can result is the material begins to press on nearby spinal nerves or the spinal cord. The extrusion of this nuclear material is abnormal and as so your body reacts by releasing chemicals that break down the material in an attempt of resorption, thus allowing the disc fissure to close. If the annular tear undergoes disc resorption, surgery is not necessary.
If non-surgical treatments have not brought relief, surgery may be necessary. AIMIS is an expert in spine surgery and can provide minimally invasive procedures for annual tear and can review and propose your type and course of treatment.
AIMIS provides various surgical options depending on an individual’s problem and include:
- Minimally Invasive Decompression Surgery,
- Minimally Invasive Stabilization Surgery,
- Artificial Disc Replacement Surgery,
- Total Disk Replacement (TDR),
- Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion,
- Decompressor Discectomy,
- Lumbar Disc Microsurgery Treatment
Why minimally invasive spine surgery?
Minimally invasive spine surgery was developed to treat spine problems with less injury to the muscles and other normal structures in the spine. It also assists the surgeon to see where the problem exists in the spine. Minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), does not involve a long incision as is open surgery which helps to avoid damage to the muscles surrounding the spine. In most cases, this results in less pain after surgery and a significant faster recovery.
Spine surgery is normally recommended once a period of nonsurgical treatment likely including medications and physical therapy has not provided pain relief caused by the back problem. Surgery is considered when the source of your pain and underlying cause can be identified and surgical procedure proposed. Minimally invasive techniques today are common and being used for a wide range of spine procedures.
Benefits of minimal invasive spine surgery include:
- Small incisions
- Less pain. Often less pain than open procedures because less of the natural anatomy is disrupted
- Shorter Hospital stay
- Quicker return to daily activities
- Lower infection and complication rate
- Less blood loss. Smaller incisions also mean less blood loss, which can ultimately improve outcomes.
Minimally invasive procedures take a surgery that could be a dramatic event and makes it have less of an impact!
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Reputable and Prestigious Surgeons
AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment
Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
You may have questions like:
- Can I get more information before I commit to this?
- Can I get a second opinion from you before I commit to this?
- How can I find out the cost before I have any obligation?
What AIMIS Can do:
AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.
AIMIS provide competitive prices for state of the art procedures. We also work with a large range of Insurance companies where your policy allows you to have surgery abroad.
Further information on the problem:
There are three types of annular tears, which occur in different layers of the annulus fibrosus, which is the medical term for the tough outer layer of a disc. Each type can have a different cause and a range of symptoms that varies in severity.
- Radial tear. A radial tear, also known as a radial fissure, starts in the innermost part of the annulus fibrosus and travels to the outermost part. This deep tear can sometimes allow the nucleus pulposus to leak out into the spinal column. It does not always cause symptoms, but it can irritate nerve endings in the annulus fibrosus and cause pain at the site of the tear. Disc tissue can also put pressure on spinal nerves, causing radiating pain, numbness, muscle weakness or tingling.
- Concentric tear. This is also commonly called a circumferential tear and occurs in between the layers of the annulus fibrosus. These tears usually do not occur in the inner third of the disc.
- Transverse tear. Transverse tears happen in the outermost lamellae, and are also known as rim lesions or peripheral tears. Discs that incur this type of tear are at risk for developing a more severe tear that travels further into the disc.
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups
While some risks of developing an annular tear are unavoidable, such as age, other factors can be addressed to lower the risk of developing this and other degenerative spine conditions such as weight and strenuous activities.
- Age - The most common cause of an annular tear is age. The spine suffers years of wear and tear, and the discs in the spine can gradually deteriorate as a result. Over time, the discs in the spine may lose elasticity, causing the tough outer layer of the disc to tear when the spine is under pressure, instead of stretch like a younger disc might.
- Strenuous activities - Participation in high-impact sports (e.g., football and rugby) can cause the tough, elastic outer layer of the disc to become injured. Either acute or continued impact can lead to an annular tear. Occupations that require heavy lifting or constant bending can also lead to disc injury or annular tear.
- Weight - Since the majority of a person’s weight is supported by the back, increased weight causes stress upon the discs. Carrying excess body weight forces pressure on the vertebrae and discs in the back, possibly causing the discs to expand and tear under the pressure.
Why AIMIS for this Surgery
AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.
Other Services Provided by AIMIS
In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.