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Old 08-19-2004, 06:07 PM   #1
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Bulging disc-how does it heal???

I have an annular tear, L-5 to S-1 with a bulging disc. I was thinking about it and how does the bulging disc heal?? Does time just take the inflammation down to relieve the pain or does the disc actually in time migrate back to its original position? After three weeks, I have made it through the day with some time when I had no pain depending on my position. Sounds small, but it is something to me. I would imagine the tear would repair itself but if the disc stays put, re-injury seems almost certain. Just wondering for the years ahead....... Beth

 
Old 08-19-2004, 07:35 PM   #2
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Beth--Sometimes the disk literally shrinks some. It is probably rare that the bulge entirely disappears, but it reduces in size. That happened in my case as shown in an MRI that was done five months after an earlier one.

Tears, from what I gather, are tougher to heal. It can take 18 months to two years, some have said. In both case (bulges and tears) healing doesn't always occur. As you suggest, reinjuries are common.

It's worth keeping in mind also that a lot of people have "ugly" looking MRIS--lot of bulges, tears, etc.--and are pain free. Others have normal MRIs and can't move. So the correlation between what the imaging shows and what people experience is not, to say the least, "simple"!

Standingman

 
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Old 08-19-2004, 08:03 PM   #3
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Standingman - interesting that some people have MRI's that show they should have pain and some look fine and are in pain. I believe this is very true although seems to defy science. Years ago my Mom had a scan that showed she had terrible arthritis in her neck area, yet she had no pain at all. Makes you wonder..... Not only do you have to look for the root cause, then you have to somewhat dismiss is and move on as best as possible, improving your physical lifestyle to keep you health....mind and body, very intesting but we all want the simple fix, especially when it has to do with pain.....I know I do... Beth (thanks for your answer)

 
Old 08-19-2004, 09:20 PM   #4
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Not to go totally off topic here, but as seen in my sig, I have several compression fractures of the thoracic vertebrae. Along with scoliosis in my neck and DDD in the lumbar area. Anyway, the compression fractures were caused by an auto accident on June 23, and the doctor said comp. fractures heal in about 6-8 weeks. Well, its been way past that timeframe, and I have seen no improvement. So my question is, do they every actually ever heal themselves? Especially with DDD?
Once again sorry to go off topic, but it kinda fit I guess.

Thanks for any input,
Amy
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Scoliosis
Encroachment C4-C8
Compression fractures T5-T8
DDD T9-T10
Retrolisthesis L5-S1

 
Old 08-20-2004, 06:06 AM   #5
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

[QUOTE=Fly_Girl01]Not to go totally off topic here, but as seen in my sig, I have several compression fractures of the thoracic vertebrae. Along with scoliosis in my neck and DDD in the lumbar area. Anyway, the compression fractures were caused by an auto accident on June 23, and the doctor said comp. fractures heal in about 6-8 weeks. Well, its been way past that timeframe, and I have seen no improvement. So my question is, do they every actually ever heal themselves? Especially with DDD?
Once again sorry to go off topic, but it kinda fit I guess.

Thanks for any input,
Amy[/QUOTE]

I would think that a fracture in any other part of your body that you can favor would heal in that time but your back....you can't exactly put it in a sling, I would think the healing period would be longer, especially with DDD.
I can't believe what doctors tell people, maybe that was best case senario.
Anyway, I feel for you and your pain and best of luck in your recovery process.... Beth

 
Old 08-20-2004, 08:30 AM   #6
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Fly--I don't have an answer, but I fear your question may get lost under this thread. Why not start a new thread with that specific question as the subject. There may be people here who can be more informative.

Good luck,

Standingman

 
Old 08-20-2004, 08:40 AM   #7
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Hey dear, my husband was just told after MRI that he has two bulging disks, they told him to take Aleve for pain and discomfort and to start physical therapy to work disks back into place. He hasnt started therapy yet, but is about to. So hope this helps.....I'll let you know how it goes after therapy.

Hope you feel better, Dana

 
Old 08-20-2004, 09:56 AM   #8
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

I have been told that of all the non-steroidals out there, Alive is not to be taken long term - it is much harder on internal organs. Ibuprofen and Acetomenophen are much better choices for back pain.
I found this out when I went to my back specialist - she said that any over the counter pain reliever was fine except Alieve.
I still use it occasionally but never more then a couple of days.

 
Old 08-20-2004, 09:10 PM   #9
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

[QUOTE=ThinBones]I have an annular tear, L-5 to S-1 with a bulging disc. I was thinking about it and how does the bulging disc heal?? Does time just take the inflammation down to relieve the pain or does the disc actually in time migrate back to its original position? After three weeks, I have made it through the day with some time when I had no pain depending on my position. Sounds small, but it is something to me. I would imagine the tear would repair itself but if the disc stays put, re-injury seems almost certain. Just wondering for the years ahead....... Beth[/QUOTE]

The tear should heal within eighteen months or so. As for the bulging disc, I asked my doctor about mine and he told me that they never go back to normal. You just have to make sure that you don't herniate it. Bulging discs don't always correlate with pain. I imagine the pain that you are feeling is from the tear. Follow your doctors instructions and you should be fine.

 
Old 08-21-2004, 09:52 AM   #10
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

the disk is fluid filled and as I understand it, it is like toothpaste (looks like crab meat.) Ligaments compose the outside of the disc, which is what tears, letting the inside buldge or escape. My bulge finally herniated and a fragment broke loose and compressed the nerve, causing much more pain than the bulge. I don't know if your bulge will go back in or remain bulging, but you have to be careful not to lift things, or do movement that could cause it to tear, yet you have to stay in good physical shape. I was told that when it ruptures, as in my case, in 50% of the cases the body will reabsorb the disk material. The body heals itself and the doctor says most bulges and herniations do not require surgery. It is when they land on the nerve that problems arise from what i've found and understand. Plus, arthritic disks (show up black on MRI) are more brittle with less water so maybe those don't reaborb so well? It is really hard to understand all this isn't it? I've been asking questions for 3 years to get a handle on this stuff. good luck.

 
Old 08-21-2004, 11:21 AM   #11
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

I had a bad herniation in '91 that healed completely on its own after about five months. Not the slightest problem for several years after that. Lifted everything, played a lot of golf, no problem. I was then in my early forties. A differenk disk bulged badly a couple of years ago, and did go back in some after six months. You can see it on the MRI. But this time my symptoms have hung around. So, for me at least, the earlier herniation healed better than the bulge I have now. But I guess it all depends where the disk material ends up and what it presses on, as others have said.

Spiro

 
Old 08-21-2004, 06:02 PM   #12
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

tears heal, bulges do not go back in. Some people try IDET but the success rate of these, long term, is not favorable.

 
Old 08-21-2004, 08:48 PM   #13
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Re: Bulging disc-how does it heal???

Moonlight is probably correct that a bulge virtually never entirely goes back in, but it _can_ reduce in size. To quote my own MRI report back in December '02, "Moderate diffuse posterior disc protrusion at L2-L3 appears somewhat improved when compared to the prior/comparison MRI." That earlier MRI was 5 months prior. My neurosurgeon described the improvement as "significant" (whatever that means!)--I guess as much as one normally sees within such a period. It's pretty obvious when you put the two MRIs side by side--the "mountain range" is clearly not as high in the second as in the first MRI. The bulge did not involve any herniation at either point in time.

Unfortunately, in one further MRI six months after the last, the status was the same--better than it started out, but not better than December. This more or less coincides with the way my symptoms were as well.

Standingman

 
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