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A prolapsed disc occurs when an annular tear is created due to disc degeneration or injury. This tear allows the nucleus pulposus to spill outside of its normal bounds, encroaching on soft tissues in the spinal cavity. Annular tears weaken the structure of the disc, compromising the disc’s ability to act as a shock absorber between vertebrae. Meant to facilitate movement in the spine as well as countering load, intervertebral discs play an important role in everyday actions like sitting, standing and walking.
Types of prolapsed discAnnular tears that give way to prolapsed herniations come in several different forms. While even the slightest tear is recognized as prolapsed or herniated disc, not all herniations are symptom causing. Typically a prolapsed disc is formed due to one or more of the following types of annular tears:Concentric tears
- Typically caused due to injury, concentric tears affect the disc by creating separation in the lamellae or membrane layers protecting the disc.
- Peripheral tears, while similar in orientation to concentric tears, occur on the outside of the disc and are not limited to separation of membrane layers. They are frequently known to cause disc degeneration.
- Spanning the height of the disc and extending from the center outward, radial tears occur naturally with aging and are the most common cause of disc herniation in patients.