Disc Decompression: Biacuplasty, Annuloplasty, & Nucleoplasty Treatments

What are the Available Disc Decompression Treatments?

Spinal pain, especially in the lower back or due to conditions like a herniated disc, is a significant health concern. When conventional pain management strategies are inadequate, minimally invasive treatment methods such as general disc decompression, biacuplasty, annuloplasty, and nucleoplasty are often considered.


General Disc Decompression: Encompasses various methods to relieve nerve compression caused by disc abnormalities. Techniques under this category include removing or reshaping disc material to alleviate nerve pressure.


Biacuplasty: Targets discs causing pain, using cooled radiofrequency technology to inactivate pain-transmitting nerves within the disc. Ideal for treating chronic discogenic back pain.


Annuloplasty: Focuses on the annulus fibrosus, the disc’s outer layer, when it is the source of pain. It employs radiofrequency energy to alter pain pathways, potentially easing discomfort.


Nucleoplasty: A targeted approach for issues in the nucleus pulposus, the disc’s centre. It involves removing part of the disc material to reduce pressure on nerves, especially beneficial for bulging or contained herniated discs.

While these procedures are significant in managing disc-related spinal pain, it’s important to note that there are other disc decompression techniques available. Alternatives like microdiscectomy, laminectomy, and various percutaneous procedures offer different approaches and are selected based on the specific needs and conditions of the patient. These treatments, while diverse in application, share the goal of mitigating spinal pain and improving quality of life. However, their suitability depends on individual conditions, underlining the importance of thorough medical evaluation.

Conditions Suitable for Biacuplasty, Annuloplasty & Nucleoplasty

Disc decompression methods such as biacuplasty, annuloplasty, and nucleoplasty are suitable treatment options for the following conditions:

Herniated Disc (Slipped Disc)

Individuals with herniated discs, where the disc material protrudes and compresses the nearby nerve, can benefit from these procedures. By precisely removing the problematic disc material, the disc can be relieved from the pressure on the nerve, leading to pain reduction and improved functionality.


Sciatica, often due to a pinched sciatic nerve from lumbar spine disorders, manifests as pain or numbness along the nerve path. Treatment focuses on easing this nerve compression, aiming to reduce pain and improve functionality, with approaches varying based on the underlying cause.

Discogenic Pain

Discogenic pain, stemming from neck or low back issues related to intervertebral discs, can be addressed through treatments focusing on reducing disc compression. These methods aim to alleviate the source of pain, aiding in improving daily life comfort and functionality.

Reviewing the Potential Benefits of Various Disc Decompression Treatments

These treatment methods, as specialised forms of disc decompression, may offer several potential benefits. It’s important to note that individual results can vary, and procedures such as annuloplasty should be considered after consulting with healthcare professionals. Potential advantages include:

  • Minimally Invasive Approach: Smaller incisions typically lead to potentially faster recovery times compared to traditional open surgery.
  • Pain Relief: These methods aim to alleviate pain of the spine by addressing its root causes, such as reducing nerve compression or targeting pain-signalling pathways, though results can vary.
  • Quicker Recovery: The less invasive nature of these treatments often allows for a quicker return to daily activities, but recovery time can differ from patient to patient.
  • Reduced Risk of Complications: Generally, these techniques have a lower risk of complications and less scarring than more invasive surgeries, but like all medical procedures, they carry some risk.
  • Improved Functionality and Mobility: While many patients experience improved mobility and functionality, the extent of improvement depends on individual circumstances.
  • Potential for Reduced Long-Term Medication Use: Effective management of spinal issues may decrease the need for ongoing pain medication, but this varies based on the specific treatment and patient response.

What Happens During a Disc Decompression Treatment?

Disc decompression treatments such as biacuplasty, annuloplasty, and nucleoplasty among others, involves the following steps:

  • Diagnosis and Evaluation: A comprehensive assessment to determine the suitability of the procedure based on one’s condition and medical history.
  • Anaesthesia: Local anaesthesia (LA) or sedation (GA) is administered to ensure comfort.
  • Disc Material Removal: Specialised needles are used to remove problematic disc material, reducing pressure on the affected nerve.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation: If the disc is a source of pain, radiofrequency ablation is performed to destroy pain-signalling nerves.
  • Recovery and Follow-Up: Monitored in a recovery area with specific post-procedure instructions and scheduled follow-up appointments.

Am I a Candidate for Disc Decompression Treatments?

To evaluate whether you are a candidate for disc decompression treatments, such as annuloplasty, the following key factors are considered:

  • Response to Non-Surgical Treatments: An assessment of how your condition has reacted to less invasive approaches, such as medications, steroid injections, or physical therapy.
  • Symptom Severity: The extent of persistent symptoms like pain, numbness, or tingling, especially if these have not improved with conservative treatments.
  • Diagnostic Confirmation: The use of MRI or CT scans to identify specific conditions like herniated discs, sciatica, or discogenic pain that might benefit from these procedures.
  • Medical History Review: An examination of your overall health history, focusing on any potential risks or contraindications, like active infections or bleeding disorders.
  • Specialist Consultation: Engaging with a pain medicine specialist or a spine surgeon to discuss the potential benefits and risks, tailored to your specific case.

Understanding the Journey After Disc Decompression Treatments

Undergoing a disc decompression treatment, including methods like annuloplasty, marks a significant step in addressing spinal issues. As you embark on this journey, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of what the post-treatment phase entails and be aware of the potential side effects. This knowledge will help you and your healthcare team to better ascertain the suitability of such treatments and prepare for the recovery process.

Post-Procedure Expectations

After undergoing a disc decompression treatment, such as annuloplasty, patients typically encounter the following:

  • Mild Discomfort: It’s common to feel some soreness at the puncture site.
  • Activity Restrictions: Limiting strenuous physical activities for a period, usually a few weeks, is often recommended.
  • Pain Assessment and Medication Adjustment: Pain relief and recovery progress are regularly assessed, potentially leading to changes in medication.
  • Follow-Up Appointments: These are crucial for monitoring recovery and adjusting treatment plans.
  • Physiotherapy: Engaging in specialised exercises may be advised to enhance mobility and strength in affected areas.

Understanding Potential Side Effects

While minimally invasive and generally safe, disc decompression treatments, including annuloplasty, might cause some side effects:

  • Infection and Bleeding: Risks at the puncture site are minimal but present.
  • Nerve Irritation: Some patients might experience temporary increased discomfort.
  • Variability in Pain Relief: Complete pain relief is not guaranteed for everyone.
  • Allergic Reactions: There’s a possibility of reactions to anaesthesia or medications.
  • Temporary Numbness: Numbness in the treated area might occur due to local anaesthesia.

Consulting with your general physician is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of your individual risks and to ascertain if disc decompression treatments are suitable for you.

Considering Disc Decompression Treatments?

If you are experiencing pain due to conditions like herniated discs, understanding your treatment options is a crucial step. You can schedule a consultation at specialised pain management clinics to discuss the potential benefits and considerations of disc decompression treatments, of which include the likes of biacuplasty, annuloplasty, and nucleoplasty. During the consultation, healthcare professionals can provide detailed information, assess your condition, and help you make an informed decision based on your specific circumstances and health needs. Contacting a medical provider for a comprehensive evaluation can be the first step in addressing your pain and understanding the appropriate treatment options.

Our clinic is under the following insurance panels

We work with various insurance partners to assist with your hospitalisation and surgery claims. In some instances, pre-approval from your insurer allows direct billing between the hospital and insurer so that you will have peace of mind during your treatment. We are accredited by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH), so you may also utilise Medisave for your hospitalisation expenses.

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Meet Our Doctor

Dr Ho Kok Yuen is a specialist in pain medicine and anaesthesia. He completed his pain management fellowship at Duke University Hospital in USA in 2006. He is involved in teaching, research and also serves on numerous advisory boards. Besides writing articles in peer-reviewed journals, clinical practice and consensus guidelines, as well as book chapters on pain and anaesthesia, he lectures at international conferences and teaches at interventional pain workshops frequently.

Dr Ho Kok Yuen obtained his MBBS and Master of Medicine (Anaesthesiology) from the National University of Singapore. He holds a Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine (GDSM) from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMed) at Nanyang Technological University.

  • Diplomate, American Academy of Pain Management (DAAPM)
  • European Diploma in Pain Medicine (EDPM), European Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ESRA)
  • European Diploma in Pain Medicine (EDPM), European Pain Federation EFIC
  • Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMed)
  • Chairman, Chapter of Pain Medicine Physicians, Academy of Medicine, Singapore
  • Council Member, College of Anaesthesiologists, Academy of Medicine, Singapore
  • Chairman, South-East Asian Section, World Institute of Pain (WIP)
  • Fellow, Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP) with the WIP
  • Examiner, FIPP Examinations
  • Fellow, Academy of Medicine, Singapore (FAMS)
  • Past President, The Pain Association of Singapore (2011-2017)
  • Past Vice-President, Association for South-East Asian Pain Societies (ASEAPS) (2012-2013)

Dr Ho Kok Yuen is widely recognised as an expert in minimally invasive interventional pain management, having performed thousands of such surgeries. He treats persistent and severe pain using therapies such as steroid injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, intrathecal drug delivery and spinal cord stimulation.

The first physician in Asia to perform cooled radiofrequency ablation, he has been treating spine, sacroiliac joint, hip, and knee pain using this technique since 2006. He also administers spinal infusions to ensure pain-free end-of-life comfort care for patients with advanced terminal cancer pain.

When Boston Scientific launched its most advanced SCS system – the WaveWriter Alpha™ – in Southeast Asia, Dr Ho Kok Yuen was the first doctor to perform the implant surgery. SCS uses electrical impulses to block pain signals in the spinal cord, effectively treating intractable back pain, leg pain and neuropathic pain. SCS therapy has helped hundreds and thousands of people around the world improve their quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Disc Annuloplasty

Disc decompression is a treatment that is used to alleviate pressure and/or pain on the spinal disc or nerve. This pressure may result from conditions such as a herniated disc, bulging disc, or degenerative disc disease. The decompression process is non-invasive and employs a negative pressure within the disc to draw back or realign the disc material causing discomfort. A device that precisely reduces the size of the disc is used in the procedure, reducing pain and fostering optimal conditions for healing.

Disc decompression treatments generally do not cause pain. Many patients experience a mild stretching sensation or minor pressure during the procedure, but not discomfort or pain. As it’s a minimally invasive procedure, there are no incisions involved, and it’s commonly performed as an outpatient procedure. The primary objective of the treatment is to alleviate pain, not to inflict it. However, experiences can vary among individuals, and any discomfort should be reported to the medical team.

The time frame to observe improvement following disc annuloplasty surgery varies widely among patients. Some individuals might start experiencing relief from symptoms within a few days or weeks post-procedure. However, for others, it may take a few months of slow and steady recovery to attain the full benefit of the procedure. The recovery time can be influenced by factors such as the severity of the disc issue, the overall health condition of the patient, and the degree of adherence to the post-procedure care plan. This care plan often encompasses physical therapy and lifestyle modifications. It’s crucial to have a detailed discussion with your healthcare provider to set realistic expectations for recovery post-disc annuloplasty.


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