What Happens To My Herniated Disc If I Dont Have Surgery
A study of patients with different sized herniations showed that by six months to one year, herniated disc material had dissolved in many of the cases. The larger the herniation , the faster the material was reabsorbed.
Long-term studies have shown that, although surgical intervention may generate a faster initial recovery time, conservative outcomes are equally effective in patients after five and 10 years .
What Causes Slipped Discs
A slipped disc occurs when the outer ring becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. This can happen with age. Certain motions may also cause a slipped disc. A disc can slip out of place while you are twisting or turning to lift an object. Lifting a very large, heavy object can place great strain on the lower back, resulting in a slipped disc. If you have a very physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting, you may be at increased risk for slipped discs.
Overweight individuals are also at increased risk for a slipped disc because their discs must support the additional weight. Weak muscles and a sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to the development of a slipped disc.
As you get older, you are more likely to experience a slipped disc. This is because your discs begin to lose some of their protective water content as you age. As a result, they can slip more easily out of place. They are more common in men than women.
Will A Herniated Disk Get Worse
An untreated herniated disk can get worse. Thats especially true if you continue the activities that caused it for instance, if it developed because of your work. A worsening ruptured disk may cause chronic pain and loss of control or sensation in the affected area. See your healthcare provider if you still have symptoms after four to six weeks of conservative care.
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Exercise : Prone On Elbows
Begin by laying on your belly. Place your forearms on the mat with the elbows directly under your shoulders. Arms are parallel with each other. On an inhale, gently begin to lift your chest and upper torso off the floor into a mild bending of your back. Lift the belly in and up to support the lower spine. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then gently lower back down to the floor
Medical History And Physical Examination
After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination. The exam may include the following tests:
- Neurological examination. A neurological examination will help your doctor determine if you have any muscle weakness or loss of sensation. During the exam, he or she will:
- Check muscle strength in your lower leg by assessing how you walk on both your heels and toes. Muscle strength in other parts of your body may also be tested.
- Detect loss of sensation by checking whether you can feel a light touch on your leg and foot.
- Test your reflexes at the knee and ankle. These may sometimes be absent if there is a compressed nerve root in your spine.
Clinical photo of a doctor performing the straight leg raise test.
Reproduced from JF Sarwak, ed: Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, ed. 4. Rosemont, IL, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2010.
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Are There Complications With A Herniated Disc
Unfortunately, if left untreated, a severely herniated or slipped disc can lead to permanent damage of the nerve. It can cut off the feeling aspect of the nerve, causing you to lose bowel or bladder control.
You could also suffer from a complication called saddle anesthesia. This means you would lose feeling in areas where a saddle would touch, such as your inner thighs, the bottom portion of your buttocks, the rectum, and the backs of your thighs.
This is why a diagnosis and treatment plan should begin right away.
Secret #: Give Yourself Time To Heal
Unfortunately, too many people with back pain either dont allow their bodies time to heal, or they begin a treatment plan, but stop once they begin to feel better.
It takes approximately 4 weeks for a bulging or herniated disc to heal itself, then another 12 weeks of chiropractic care and physical therapy for you to return to your usual daily activities and exercise program.
When you dont follow through on a treatment plan, or you continue to do things that put more pressure on the affected disc, you not only make things worse, you risk herniating another disc. You also delay the healing process.
You can spend the first 48 hours in bed or on the sofa, icing the affected area. You will most likely feel like sleeping, which is good as this is necessary for healing to take place.
However, after that, you need to begin a treatment plan, which includes getting from your sofa.
Dont go back to work until your chiropractor tells you that its OK. Dont go back to your old way of doing things, since that is probably what injured your back, to begin with. Lastly, dont quit treatment the moment you are feeling better.
Allow your body the time it needs to heal from this injury or risk more of the same.
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What Treatments Are Available
Conservative nonsurgical treatment is the first step to recovery and may include medication, rest, physical therapy, home exercises, hydrotherapy, epidural steroid injections , chiropractic manipulation, and pain management. With a team approach to treatment, 80% of people with back pain improve in about 6 weeks and return to normal activity. If you donât respond to conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend surgery.
When To Consider Surgery
If pain and sciatica persist for three months or more, its considered chronic and may need a higher level of care. Many people at this stage start thinking about surgery.
Injections of anti-inflammatory steroids into the area near the inflamed nerve and ruptured disc may help to delay surgery, but they arent a long term solution. Injections can provide relief for up to a few months, but the relief will wear off. There are limits on how many injections you can safely have in a given year.
The most common surgery is called diskectomy. Surgical techniques vary, but diskectomy removes part of the ruptured disc so it doesnt press on the spinal nerve roots anymore. In many cases, it can be done as an outpatient procedure.
Disc surgery is not guaranteed to work, and the pain might get worse. The disc may rupture again later, or a different disc may fail.
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Symptoms Of Herniated Lumbar Disc:
Lower back pain Leg pain Leg numbness or tingling Pain is worse from sitting Restricted trunk flexionSciatica pain
Please note, a herniated disc DOESNT always cause pain, so you must get a proper diagnosis.
Lower back pain is typically the first symptom of a lumbar disc herniation. Often this pain will last for a few days and then subside, but leg pain, numbness or tingling, and/or weakness of the lower extremity often follows.
Typically the leg pain eventually travels below the knee and can even affect the ankle and foot.
How long does the pain last?
Most patients with a lumbar disc herniation will improve gradually over a period of days to weeks, with most patients being symptom free within 3 to 4 months.
Patients that actively participate in an exercise program often report a significant reduction of pain and improved ability to perform their activities of daily living.
The Best Ways To Sit And Sleep If You Have A Herniated Disc
A herniated disc can make going about your everyday life extremely painful. Here are some tips to help you get relief.
If youve been diagnosed with a herniated disc, your first question to your orthopedic specialist will likely be, How can I reduce the pain? Things you once took for granted like sitting at a desk and getting a good nights sleep now seem more challenging or entirely out of reach.
A herniated disc is a common orthopedic injury, but it can be very disruptive to living a full and active life. It occurs when one of the gel-filled discs that acts as a shock absorber between the vertebrae in the spine ruptures or slips out of place. The damaged disc then irritates the nearby nerves, causing uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
Fortunately, herniated discs often respond well to physical therapy and pain medication and rarely require surgery. As part of your recovery, your physical therapist will show you the best ways to sit and sleep in order to reduce the pain.
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So How Can I Get Rid Of Disc Pain And Disc Problems
Glad you asked. The answer to this question will depend on how much pain your herniated disc is causing you and how far the disc has herniated into the area surrounding the spine.
No one wants to be in pain, but no one wants surgery either. The good news here is that most people dont need surgery for a herniated disc, they just need to know the 9 little secrets for getting rid of disc pain.
Who Gets A Slipped Disc
Bouts of back pain are very common. However, fewer than 1 in 20 cases of sudden-onset back pain are due to a ‘slipped’ disc.
The most common age to develop a prolapsed disc is between 30 and 50 years. Twice as many men as women are affected. A prolapsed disc is rare in anyone under 20 years of age. For information and advice on back pain in young people, see the separate leaflet called Back Pain in Children.
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Symptoms Of Disc Herniations
Symptoms of a herniated disc usually include pain that travels into one or both arms or legs, numbness or tingling in areas of extremities, muscle weakness, and loss of reflexes in extremities. The symptoms of a herniated disc may not include necessarily include a wide array of pain. Where symptoms occur depends on where the herniation is located and what surrounding structures are irritated. The location of the symptoms helps determine the diagnosis as nerves usually travel in specific patterns.
The Nucleus Functions To Spread Forces Out Over The Vertebrae Above And Below It Preventing Excessive Forces Through One Part Of The Vertebrae
Consequently the lumbar spine can move through considerable ranges and tolerate countless activities without compromising the vertebral bodies.
The disc acts as a force distributor, link, and cushion between vertebral bones. It allows motion while also stabilizing the spine and resisting excessive movement in any one direction.
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Manual Therapy And Treatments Based On Physical Stimuli
The treatment options for sciatica following a slipped disc also include manual therapy and treatments based on physical stimuli. Manual treatment may include massages and special techniques for relaxing tense muscles or locked joints. Treatments based on physical stimuli use warming and cooling methods to relieve pain. These treatments are also called passive therapies because patients don’t have to actively participate. Common treatments include:
- Massages: Various massage techniques are used to relax muscles and ease tension.
- Heating and cooling: This includes the use of hot packs and heating patches, a hot bath, going to the sauna or using an infrared lamp. Heat can also help relax tense muscles. Cold packs, like cold wraps or gel packs, are also used to help soothe irritated nerves.
- Ultrasound therapy: Here the lower back is treated with sound waves. The small vibrations that are produced generate heat and relax the body tissue.
There is no overall proof that passive treatments speed up recovery from a slipped disc or relieve the pain especially well. But many people find that heat or massages are pleasant and relaxing.
What Happens If A Herniated Disc Goes Untreated
Most herniated discs actually get better on their own. Studies have shown that about 80 percent of herniated disc cases resolve themselves within approximately six weeks, but it could also take much longer than that, even many, many months longer. Usually, if the condition appears to be improving slightly at two to three weeks, theres a high probability that it will resolve on its own. However, some patients may require surgery those are made based on the severity of pain and motor weakness, in conjunction with your doctor.
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When Should I See A Doctor
Initially, you can treat herniated disk pain at home. But you should see your doctor if:
- Pain interferes with daily life, like going to work.
- Symptoms arent better after four to six weeks.
- Symptoms get worse.
- You develop loss of bladder or bowel control.
- You notice tingling, numbness or loss of strength in your arms, hands, legs or feet.
- You have trouble standing or walking.
How Are Slipped Discs Diagnosed
Your doctor will first perform a physical exam. They will be looking for the source of your pain and discomfort. This will involve checking your nerve function and muscle strength, and whether you feel pain when moving or touching the affected area. Your doctor also will ask you about your medical history and your symptoms. They will be interested in when you first felt symptoms and what activities cause your pain to worsen.
Imaging tests can help your doctor view the bones and muscles of your spine and identify any damaged areas. Examples of imaging scans include:
- MRI scans
Your doctor can combine all these pieces of information to determine what is causing your pain, weakness, or discomfort.
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How Is A Bulging Disc Different From Herniated Disc And Which Is Worse
Now that we know what a bulging disc is, lets discuss disc herniation.
In most simple terms, a herniated disc is when the fluid material from the disc ruptures through the outer layer of the disc and now spills out the back, which can directly compress on spinal nerves and spinal structures. If you use the water balloon example from above, but now imagine the balloon has burst under pressure Thats a herniated disc.
As you can see a herniated disc might be worse. But still many patients with Herniated discs/Bulging discs have NO symptoms, so its important to get proper diagnoses for your specific situation.
Usually bulging disc can be resolved over time if managed well, whereas the herniated disc will just scar down since the annulus has ruptured.
A nice visual spine model is provided below differentiating between normal, bulging, and herniated discs:
Exercise Is More Effective When Its Done Consistently
You dont need to exercise for an hour every day. Lets face it, we are more busy in todays fast paced world than ever before. And time is always the excuse.
10 minutes a day is all it takes
I dont care who you are. You have 10 minutes a day. So commit to 10 minutes a day. Its a small price to pay for less back pain and a strong spine.
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Top 7 Best Back Brace For Herniated Disc
If you know someone or have experienced a herniated disc before, you know exactly how bad and stressful that experience can be. Pain moves throughout your whole body which makes it extremely difficult to do everyday tasks such as work or exercise. There are a couple of ways you can ease the pain, there are exercises, rest, relaxation and back braces. In todays article, well talk about the difficulties when dealing with a herniated disc and we will also give you a list of our picks for the best back brace for herniated disc. So stay tuned, we have a lot of helpful information in the following text.
Treatment For A Slipped Disc From A Gp
A GP might prescribe a stronger painkiller, a steroid injection or a muscle relaxant to use in the short term.
If your symptoms do not get better, a GP might recommend further tests, like an MRI scan.
They might also refer you to a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy from the NHS might not be available everywhere and waiting times can be long. You can also get it privately.
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Check Out This Video About Herniated Discs From Our Chiropractor Dr Oliver:
Other herniated disk treatment options include:
Rest often a couple of days of rest will help to calm severe pain caused by lumbar disc herniation. However, its important that you dont rest for longer than this as it can actually worsen pain and stiffness.
Anti-inflammatory medications medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen may help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Physical therapy performing specific exercises to increase range of motion and strengthen muscles in your lower back and core may help to relieve pain and reduce your chance of re-injuring yourself.Spinal manipulation manipulation of the joints of the lower back may help to improve range of motion and decrease pain.
Massage therapy may help to increase blood circulation and relax muscles thereby helping to reduce pain.Epidural steroid injections injection of corticosteroids into the affected area may help to reduce local inflammation and relieve pain.