Now offering the Discseel® Procedure. Learn more.

Annular Tears

Annular tears develop in the spinal disc, which has two layers: the outer annulus fibrosus and the inner nucleus pulposus.

Imagine the spinal disc like a jelly doughnut, with the annulus fibrosus comprising the outer portion, enclosing and containing  the jelly-like nucleus pulposus. The annulus fibrosus is made up of 22-25 layers of fibers that connect to the vertebrae above and below the disc.

The annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus distribute force and stress placed on the spine to prevent the vertebrae from rubbing against each other and ensure that nerves around the spine don’t become pinched or compressed.

Understanding Annular Tears

Unfortunately, the fibers of the annulus fibrosus may break down from daily wear and tear as a result of age or injury. This may lead to the development of tears in the annulus fibrosus called annular tears. These tears may allow the nucleus pulposus to leak out of the disc, causing irritation and inflammation of surrounding nerves. This is why annular tears are a common cause of back pain.

Annular tears have been known to be the cause of a variety of conditions, including:

  • Disc herniation, bulges, and protrusions
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spine arthritis
  • Bone spurs