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An annular tear — also known as an annular fissure — is a rupture or opening in the annulus fibrosus, the tough outer layer of the cushioning discs that sit between the bones in the spine. When the gel-like substance inside the disc leaks out, it can come in contact with spinal nerves and trigger pain.
An annular tear can occur in the cervical spine, creating neck pain, and in the lumbar spine, creating pain or other sensations that may radiate down a single leg or both legs. The pain often grows worse during lifting or bending motions, sneezing, coughing, sitting and standing.