If you’re trying to decide if annular tear surgery is right for you, you’re probably considering what your life might look like after surgery — for instance, when you would go back to work or resume your favorite hobbies. On the other side of the equation, though, you might want to consider what your life might look like if you don’t have surgery. While it’s not possible to accurately predict the progression of an annular tear, several things could happen without surgical treatment. As part of your decision-making process, it is important to take these factors into account.
Working might become more difficult
One thing that most people are concerned about is their career — and for good reason. Chronic pain can interfere with concentration and make physically demanding professions quite difficult. While annular tear surgery will require taking some time off from work, some people are candidates for minimally invasive procedures that often have shorter recovery times and allow for a quicker return to work than traditional procedures.^
You might need more help with daily activities
Annular tear pain isn’t limited to occurring between nine and five — it can last around the clock, flaring up at inopportune times and making basic daily tasks exceptionally difficult. For people who aren’t able to manage their symptoms with conservative measures, avoiding annular tear surgery might mean relying more heavily on friends and family members for help with cooking, cleaning, driving or running errands.
A medical emergency might occur
By itself, an annular tear is not a medical emergency, and it may be possible to manage the condition at home. However, if a torn disc is located near the bottom of the spine, there’s a small chance that displaced disc material could compress the cauda equina nerves, leading to a loss of bowel and bladder control and the potential for more serious long-term complications. Cauda equina syndrome is a medical emergency and requires urgent surgical treatment.
At USA Spine Care, we want our patients to make the right choices regarding annular tear surgery — whether that means skipping surgery in favor of conservative treatment, considering one of our minimally invasive procedures or electing for a traditional operation if that’s the best option for their needs. If you’re considering annular tear surgery and would like to learn more about your options, contact us today to find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.