I have read a few articles on herniated/bulging disc's healing themselves over time. I have been pondering on this statement and rolling it over and over just wondering if this is really true and if so, how in the world can this happen? Does a person have to just sit and do nothing for ages to accomplish this, or does it happen from going for treatments at a chiopractor? I have not heard of anyone ever have this happen, and I was just wondering if anyone else has ever heard of it happening to anybody? Any thoughts??
Hi. Yes, it is very true. IN fact, more often discs heal on their own with little to no medical intervention needed. Majority of bulging discs to not require surgery, and over time will heal and reabsorb on their own. It's the ones that cause great pain and/or just don't heal over time that need medical treatments to include surgery.
Other than keeping your self as healthy as you can, including proper exercise especially of the core muscles that support your spine, being mindful of the alignment of your spine at all times, there isn't much more that you can do. It will either heal on it's own over time or it wont.
Healing of discs also do not happen over night. It differs for each person and individual disc, but they can take literally years to heal, but it not a guarantee.
An example of this would be that I was 18 when I had my first bulging disc. It gave me horrible problems for 15 years, then just quit hurting all together. The bulge is still there, but it no longer causes me pain. So while it didn't reaborb, mother nature seems to have healed it in it's present state.
Most of on here have severe and chronic spine issues and rarely, I mean "rarely" advocate the use of a chiropractor. They have their place, but not with a bulging disc is you ask me.
If you have not already seen a doctor.. I would suggest a GP to start with, and if things aren't better, have them refer you to a spine center and/or orthopaedic surgeon.
Keep us posted on how you are doing.
"believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt
L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!
I believe sometimes they can re-absorbed, kind of like dissolving over time.
I have had both happen, had disc herniations and broken off pieces that caused pain that didnt go away until I had injections; and twice now i've had herniations where the pain went away, for the most part, on it's own without medical treatment over 2 to 3 weeks.
I actually just read an article about this, but it was quite scientific, but it had something to do with certain enzymes in your body and being able to cause the disc material to dissolve or somethign like that.
I had a herniated disc in my lower back 3 years ago and was told it had healed itself.
I couldnt quite understand how this could happen.
I am wondering if it had anything to do with me slipping on the stairs as my pain seemed to be abit better after that.
Yes they do heal, but it is a very long and arduous process. The main reason for this is that after you hit about 21, any blood supply shuts off to the discs when you stop growing. That is why if you cut your finger it heals pretty quickly, but discs, having no blood supply, take a lot longer.
I first herniated a disc when I was 20, and within three months it was fine and I never worried about it for another five years! But then it happened again and this time round (after two years) it has not healed!
They are more likely to shrink back if you don't break down the healing process. That means keep the back elongated with it's natural curve as much as possible and no bending over (liken it to cutting your finger - would you keep opening up the wound by bending it around all the time?). Exercise is key because it gets the blood pumping to those back muscles, but it has to be the right exercise e.g. swimming, walking, light pilates.
Proper alignment is important, but that does not mean that a chiropractor can fix a slipped disc.
Time is a healer, but if it doesn't heal within six months, it's probably time to consider surgery.
All the surgeons, docs etc.. I have ever spoken to have said that the natural progression is for a herniated disc to heal itself and regress - usually within a year to 18mths, if not quicker. The disc gets resorbed...or any broken off parts are treated by the body as a "foreigner" and attacked and broken down by the enzymes as such. The problem is just dealing with the pain in the meantime. If its not greatly affecting your life, or you can put up with it then that's normally the best way to go. My boss had this problem and he said it took 6mths to get over the worst, 18mths in total. I think a lot of studies have compared people who got surgery say within 3mths and those who just left it...the surgery ones got initial relief quicker, but after a year or so both groups were equally "pain free".
I think there's a lot of debate over putting off surgery and risking nerve damage, or having surgery and it causing more problems. i guess it really comes down to personal choice and the nature of the problem. I had pain, supposedly at least in part due to a large disc bulge, for about a year before i saw anybody, and for another 6mths before I had suregry. 2 surgeries later and after over 2yrs of problems I'm still not great. Should I have had surgery sooner? Who knows - I would guess 2 years ago they would have said "its not causing you big problems so lets leave it and see..."
Thanks for the replys, everyone. Just watched a program on tv this morning that did say some discs can heal themselves. From what I just read on your posts, then it is true! I just couldn't see how that could happen. I have been thinking back on my back problems and remembering that my lower back hurt for years, but only when I did a lot of bending or streneous things. I would pop some ibuprophen, and felt better. Seems like when I started going to a chiopractor for my neck problems; and he also did some adjustments on my back, that is when I started to have the back pain. Needless to say, I quit going to him! I am convinced his manipulations caused the disc to become worse. I have had an MRI done and there is a herniated disc along with some stenosis. Right now I forget which level it is at.......lumbar region, though. As Jinks mentioned, it is a big decision deciding on surgery. I haven't been to a neurosurgeon yet...but have had pt and shots. I am going to see a neuro after the holidays to get a better idea of what is going on and my options, etc. Thanks for your posts, though, I found a lot of good reading and information. Hope mine heals on it's own!!!! Wouldn't that be nice!