The London Wasps prop had already recovered from four neck operations but was told by doctors that he now risked serious injury if he continued playing following his latest setback.
Vickery was an ever-present in the Lions front row during the 2001 Test series against Australia at the age of just 24.
He missed the 2005 tour of New Zealand through injury but won two more Test caps on the 2009 trip to South Africa.
A member of England's starting XV for their 2003 World Cup triumph, Vickery skippered his country to the World Cup Final four years later when they lost to the Springboks in Paris.
He won a total of 73 caps for England and made 13 appearances for the Lions, featuring in five Tests for Britain and Ireland's elite.
Devon-born Vickery played his club rugby with Gloucester between 1995 and 2006, making close to 150 appearances before moving to Wasps four years ago.
He went on to win English Premiership and Heineken Cup titles with his current club but played his last game on September 25, ironically back at Gloucester where his career had started 15 years earlier.
Vickery will officially confirm his retirement at a press conference later today.