Will My Herniated Disc Heal on its Own?

Will My Herniated Disc Heal on its Own?

A herniated disc is no walk in the park; in fact, it can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms that can interfere with your life, including back pain. This condition, if left untreated, can result in permanent nerve damage around the affected vertebrae. But is surgery necessary for a herniated disc?

Based in Coral Springs, Florida, Dr. Steven J. Svabek is an orthopedic specialist who gets you the treatment you need for your back pain. Whether it’s due to a herniated disc or another condition, he takes the time to assess your symptoms and helps you find relief through both surgical and conservative measures.

What is a herniated disc?

Your spine is a complex structure in your body that consists of bones, nerves, muscles, and tendons. Not only do these components protect your delicate spinal cord, but they give your body shape and allow you to move as well.

The bones, or vertebrae, of your spinal cord start at the lower part of your skull and continue down your back to your tailbone. Between each one of these vertebrae are small, gel-like pads known as intervertebral discs.

These discs have a tougher outer shell, known as the annulus, and a jelly-like center called the nucleus. They help to cushion your vertebrae and absorb any excess pressure that’s exerted on your spine. For this reason, they’re prone to injury.

A herniated disc is a common injury to your spine. It occurs when the soft inner layer of the disc pushes out of the outer layer. It’s commonly called a ruptured or slipped disc, and causes a lot of pain in your back and legs.

Herniated discs can occur anywhere along your spine, but are most likely to occur in your lower back, due to the pressure that area takes on a regular basis. This condition is also more common in middle age, but can happen at any point in your life.

Understanding the symptoms

The symptoms of a herniated disc vary greatly, and are linked to the area in your spine that’s affected by the condition. Pain in your back or neck is usually the first sign of this condition. Other symptoms you may experience include:

The symptoms usually only affect the area of your spine where the herniated disc has occurred. For example, if the injured disc is in your neck, the symptoms often involve your arms and shoulders. 

If the herniated disc is in your back, often only one side of your body is affected. You’ll probably experience nerve pain in one leg or the other, but in some cases both. The symptoms are usually acute at first, but tame down as the disc heals.

Do herniated discs heal without surgery?

A herniated disc causes much discomfort when it first occurs — but does that automatically mean you need surgery? The simple answer is no. In fact, many times, herniated discs heal with conservative measures only.

In most cases of mild to moderate herniated discs, they’re able to heal within four to six weeks of the original injury. You may even notice a break in your symptoms several days after, if you’ve only suffered a mild herniation.

Dr. Svabek recommends conservative measures to help ease your discomfort while your disc heals. This may include treatments such as ice, rest, and physical therapy. In some cases, you may need a round of steroids or over-the-counter pain medication to help with the discomfort and inflammation.

Surgery is only recommended for a herniated disc when the pain doesn’t subside after several conservative measures, or after six weeks of rest. Spine surgery doesn’t come without risk, so it’s not something to rush into. Dr. Svabek can help you determine the best course of treatment for your back pain.

If you’re suffering from a herniated disc and need expert care, don’t hesitate to call the office today at 954-466-9140, or book an appointment on the website using our convenient scheduling tool.

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