4 Common Causes of Annular Tears

Your spine is a very important part of your body, allowing you to have the mobility you need to get through day to day activities. This is also why your spinal discs are incredibly important. However, although spinal discs are built to take on the stress placed on the spine, they can easily develop tears, known as annular tears. In fact, just about everyone who has aged beyond their teen years likely has annular tears. Despite how common annular tears are, it is possible to avoid the development or worsening of existing tears by understanding the common causes of annular tears. With this information, we hope that you’ll be able to make changes to your daily routine that will protect your spine.

What Are Annular Tears?

Before we discuss some of the most common causes of annular tears, it’ll help to discuss the makeup of spinal discs and what annular tears actually are.

There are two parts that make up your spinal discs: the annulus fibrosus and the nucleus pulposus. The annulus fibrosus is the outermost layer of your spinal disc and it is made up of type I collagen. This outer portion houses the inner portion of your spinal disc in about 15-20 alternating layers of collagen and is what connects the vertebrae of your spine. The annulus fibrosus also contains all of your spinal discs’ nerve endings.

Housed within the annulus fibrosus in the nucleus pulposus, a gel-like substance at the center of your spinal discs. Along with keeping the vertebrae connected, the annulus fibrosus is also tasked with keeping the nucleus pulposus contained. 

Together, these two parts make up your spinal discs, acting as a cushion between vertebrae allowing the spine to maintain flexibility and withstand force placed on the spine. However, despite the strength of the annulus fibrosus and its ability to withstand force, tears can still develop. 

These tears, if severe enough, can then allow the nucleus pulposus to leak out from within your spinal disc, leading to all kinds of issues. These issues include degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, bulging discs, and disc prolapses.

Now we can discuss some of the most common causes of annular tears.

What Are Some Common Causes of Annular Tears?

Some of the common causes of annular tears are avoidable, while others aren’t. However, it’s still helpful to have an understanding of these causes because they may give you some insight into your back pain. 


Age - common causes of annular tears

Age is one of the most common causes of annular tears. As your body ages, the fibers of the annulus fibrosus can break down, just like any other part of your body. This breakdown is caused by normal daily wear and tear and is known as disc degeneration. Unfortunately, as your spinal discs wear down, normal movements of the spine that place stress on the discs can become more harmful. With less protection than usual, it becomes easier for spinal discs to develop annular tears.

It should also be noted that even though age is a common cause of annular tears, the breakdown of spinal discs can be seen in people as young as 30 years old. 


Whether you’re sitting, standing, or laying down, your posture is incredibly important to the health of your spine. Poor posture is also one of the common causes of annular tears.

When forced out of its natural S-shaped posture, your spine is unable to properly distribute the stress placed on your spinal discs in order to keep your body upright or in position. This can then place increased stress on certain parts of your spine, leading to the development of annular tears. This is worsened when poor posture is held for long periods of time. 

So remember to maintain proper posture and avoid sitting for long periods of time.

Improper Lifting Technique

Weight lifting - common causes of annular tears

Another of the common causes of annular tears is lifting heavy objects, such as weights or boxes without using proper technique. If you lift something heavy without proper form, this can easily lead to the development of an annular tear. nother of the common causes of annular tears is lifting heavy objects, such as weights or boxes without using proper technique. If you lift something heavy without proper form, this can easily lead to the development of an annular tear. 

Lifting with your back instead of with your legs can lead to too much stress being placed on your spinal discs. This stress, when it happens repeatedly or while twisting your spine, can easily lead to annular tears.

Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic injury is another of the common causes of annular tears. This usually happens to people who participate in high impact sports like football or gymnastics as well as activities that require repetitive stress to be placed on the back, like in weight lifting, golf, or tennis.

However, traumatic injuries can also be caused by accidents such as slipping and falling or car accidents.

Why Do Annular Tears Cause Pain?

Those are the common causes of annular tears, but why do annular tears cause pain? And is it possible to develop annular tears without having pain?

When annular tears cause pain, it’s due to inflammation of either the annulus fibrosus itself or irritation of nerves surrounding the tear. This inflammation and irritation occur when the nucleus pulposus is able to leak through the annular tears and come into contact with the nerves or annulus fibrosus, which perceives it as a foreign substance.

Leaking of the nucleus pulposus is why some people can develop annular tears without experiencing pain. If the nucleus pulposus doesn’t leak out of the spinal discs, you won’t feel any pain. 

The Discseel® Procedure

Unfortunately, spinal discs are unable to heal themselves when they develop annular tears due to a lack of blood flow to this area. The good news is that there is an option for healing annular tears and preventing leakage of the nucleus pulposus.

This option is the Discseel® Procedure, a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment that is designed to address annular tears. If you’re ready to get treatment for your back or neck pain, apply for the Discseel® Procedure today and find out if you’re a candidate.

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