Do you ever worry about the effects a herniated disc can have on you? Are you concerned that it may never fully heal? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! In today’s blog, we’ll be discussing what to know when it comes to herniated discs and how they can affect your health. Read on for more information!
Causes of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, is a common cause of back and neck pain. It occurs when one of the rubbery cushions between the vertebrae of the spine ruptures or bulges out beyond its normal borders and into the spinal canal.
The most common causes are:
- Injury or trauma: Traumatic events that can cause herniated discs to include sports accidents, car accidents, and falls. An underlying degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis can also weaken the discs and make them more prone to injury.
- Lifting objects: Repetitive stress from poorly lifting heavy objects – especially if done without proper form – can cause a herniated disc in some cases. According to Pain Doctor, this danger is increased for people who play certain sports or have occupations that involve heavy lifting over long periods of time.
- Natural aging process: As the body ages, the intervertebral discs become drier due to water loss over time. This drying out makes them more prone to damage, including rupture and bulging. They are more common among people over age 40 than they are in younger individuals.
Diagnosis and Treatment of a Herniated Disc
When it comes to diagnosing and treating it, an accurate diagnosis is key. The most effective diagnosis often occurs after a specialist has conducted a physical exam and obtained imaging to determine if there is pressure on their surrounding nerves.
Treatment options will vary depending on how much pain is associated with the herniated disc. Generally speaking, there are noninvasive treatments such as:
- Lifestyle modifications (i.e. heat or cold therapy, or exercise modifications)
- Physical therapy can help relieve the symptoms associated with the herniated disc.
In more severe cases, treatment may include:
- Medications prescribed to reduce inflammation
- Muscle relaxants to decrease any muscle spasms
- Corticosteroid injections directly into the area of pain
If all conservative treatments have been exhausted and symptoms remain severe enough to disrupt daily life activities, surgery may be recommended by a physician as an option for treatment. The goal of surgery would be to remove all fragment parts of the ruptured disk that are pinching nerves in order to allow the disk space to heal fully and decrease pain levels around the area of injury/discomfort significantly over time.
Can a Herniated Disc Fully Heal?
It can occur anywhere along your spine from the neck down to your lower back. It typically occurs because of natural wear and tear (age-related degeneration) or because of a sudden injury.
When a disc is herniated, some of its inner material (nucleus pulposus) will bulge out from between two vertebrae and may put pressure on one or more surrounding nerves. This can cause severe symptoms such as pain and numbness in the affected area.
So does it ever fully heal? The answer is yes, but it largely depends on individual factors such as age, lifestyle habits, and health conditions. For some people, treatment may be enough to reduce symptoms and improve functionality while other people may require surgery depending on their condition.
The recovery process differs based on the type of treatment used and will depend upon whether surgery was needed or not. While non-surgical treatments are often successful at relieving pain due to a herniated disc without needing surgery, it may take more time to heal without surgical intervention. Generally speaking, if you are required to have back surgery due to a herniation then full recovery should be expected within 8 weeks after surgery although this can differ for individuals based on pre-existing conditions or lifestyle choices during recoveries such as physical activity levels or diet.
Tips for Managing a Herniated Disc
If you have it, you may be wondering if it will ever fully heal. The good news is that most cases of a herniated disc will heal on its own. However, there are steps you can take to help speed up the healing process and alleviate pain and discomfort.
First, wait for the initial inflammation to subside before attempting any exercises to keep the pain from getting worse. If rest does not alleviate the pain and discomfort, physical therapy may be necessary. Working with an experienced physical therapist can help strengthen the abdominal and back muscles, which can provide support for the injured spine. In addition, your physical therapist can provide exercises to stretch tight muscles while increasing the range of motion in affected joints and injured areas such as:
- Neck stretching exercises
- Shoulder stretching exercises
- Core strengthening exercises
- Low back stretching exercises
Getting proper nutrition is also key in aiding recovery from disc injury or surgery. Eating a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates (such as oatmeal), omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil), magnesium (found in dark leafy greens), and calcium (found in dairy products) is important for your overall health but also key in aiding the healing process of a herniated disc.
Finally, your physician may suggest taking anti-inflammatory medications after diagnosing your condition as there are several prescription anti-inflammatory medications available for people with severe back and neck pain due to this condition or other spinal condition; however, always talk to your doctor about any medication prescribed for this purpose before starting it. Additionally, consider yoga or tai chi classes as these have been demonstrated to reduce stress and promote relaxation—both essential components of self-care when managing this condition!
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best plan based on your symptoms and treatment goals and expectations. The good news is that although some herniated discs can take months or even years to heal fully, finding methods that reduce strain on the affected area—such as appropriate exercise, weight management, and lifestyle changes—can facilitate progression in healing and improve your overall quality of life.