annular tear of lumbar disc

Why Are Annular Tears Most Common in the Lower Back?

Annular tears are a very common condition, with just about every adult developing them at some point. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every adult will experience annular tear pain, but it explains the prevalence of back pain, especially lower back pain. Why is that? It’s because annular tear of lumbar disc, or annular tears that develop in the spinal discs of the lower back are most common. Keep reading to find out why the lumbar spine is the most common area where annular tears develop.

What is an Annular Tear?

An annular tear, and an annular tear of lumbar disc, occurs when the outer layer of the spinal disc becomes torn. This outer layer is the annulus fibrosus and it contains the inner part of the spinal disc, the nucleus pulposus. When an annular tear occurs, the jelly-like nucleus pulposus may leak out.

This leaking can lead to Leaky Disc Syndrome, a term coined by Dr. Kevin Pauza. This syndrome is characterized by the nucleus pulposus leaking out of the spinal disc and coming into contact with nerves and spinal nerve roots. 

Although the nucleus pulposus is a natural part of the body, it’s meant to be contained in the spinal disc. When it leaves the spinal disc, the body reacts to it like a foreign substance, leading to irritation and inflammation of nerves and nerve roots that it comes into contact with. This means that pain caused by annular tears can be felt not just around the spine, but also in the arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Why does this happen? There are a variety of causes, but the most common is aging. Although the spinal discs are meant to absorb shock and stress to the spine, this also causes them to deteriorate as we get older.

Why is an Annular Tear of Lumbar Disc so Common?

Now we’ve discussed what annular tears are, but why is an annular tear of lumbar disc so much more common than annular tears in the cervical or thoracic spine? It’s all because of the makeup of the spinal column.

Your spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae, cushioned with spinal discs in between them. The spinal discs cushion and protect the vertebrae from shock. However, the lumbar spine tends to take on the most stress from daily activities, such as sitting. Over time, the impact of this high stress can cause annular tears to develop, leading to disc leaking and painful symptoms.

annular tear of lumbar disc

Spine Conditions Caused by an Annular Tear of Lumbar Disc

Annular tear of lumbar disc, and annular tears in general, are the root cause of many spine conditions, despite what most people or doctors believe.  In this section, we’ll discuss the most common spine conditions caused by annular tears and how annular tears cause them.

Chronic lower back pain is a condition characterized by pain felt in the lower back persisting for at least 6 months. As mentioned earlier, when the nucleus pulposus leaks out of the spinal disc, it causes inflammation and irritation that can lead to chronic pain. When the damaged spinal discs are located in the lower back, this may lead to the development of chronic lower back pain. The most effective way to treat this condition is to address its underlying cause and directly treat the annular tears.

Degenerative disc disease occurs as we age, similar to annular tears themselves. When annular tears develop in spinal discs, leaking of the nucleus pulposus causes spinal discs to degenerate and desiccate (dry up). This leads to pain due to irritation and inflammation caused by the nucleus pulposus coming into contact with nerves and nerve roots. Degenerative discs can also reduce the mobility and flexibility of the spine, along with other issues. In order to relieve degenerative disc disease pain, treatment needs to address annular tears.

Herniated discs generally develop following annular tears. Because of this, herniated disc pain is actually caused by nucleus pulposus leaking that accompanies the herniation. Many patients are mistakenly led to believe that pain caused by this condition is a result of a physically pinched or compressed nerve, but that is seldom ever the case. This is why herniated discs must be treated by addressing the annular tear that allowed the herniation to happen, first and foremost.

Sciatica, like disc herniation, is a condition in which pain is believed to be caused by a physically compressed nerve. However, while sciatica can accompany degenerative disc disease or disc herniation, the true cause of this pain is an annular tear that allows the nucleus pulposus to leak and irritate the sciatic nerve root. This causes pain to radiate throughout the sciatic nerve and all the areas of the body it serves, like the legs, feet, and toes. As with the other conditions mentioned in this section, sciatica pain is best treated by addressing and healing annular tears.

Treat Lower Back Pain Caused by Annular Tears With Dr. Pauza’s Discseel® Procedure

Addressing annular tears that cause the pain associated with all of these conditions is the most effective way to relieve the pain caused by them, but the most common spine treatments and surgical procedures aren’t designed to address annular tears! In addition to this, surgical procedures like spinal fusion have such low rates of success that most patients prefer to avoid surgery altogether. What options are patients left with?

The Discseel Procedure, invented by Dr. Pauza, is a non-surgical, minimally invasive spine procedure that uses an orthobiologic to address annular tears and relieve lower back pain caused by an annular tear of lumbar disc. This is the only spine procedure specifically designed to address annular tears and stop the leaking of the nucleus pulposus.

Whether your pain is caused by chronic lower back pain, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, or herniated discs, the Discseel Procedure may be able to help you. Apply for the Discseel Procedure today and find out if you’re a candidate!