A place for everything and everything in its place — that’s your body’s goal. Unfortunately, injuries and the gradual effects of time make it all too easy for your body to slip out of place.
That’s what happens when you have a herniated disc.
Discs are the parts of your spine that sit between your vertebrae and provide cushion and support. With a herniated disc, the spongy interior pops out of place and pushes into nearby structures, including your nerves.
The result? Widespread pain, numbness, and weakness.
Fortunately, you might not be dealing with those symptoms for very long. Here, Dr. David Wu at CurePain in Torrance, California, gives you an inside look at the treatments for herniated discs and the time it takes to heal, so you know exactly what to expect.
Time heals most things
There’s good news — 90% of herniated discs heal on their own within about six months. Most times, all your back needs is time to recover. If you want to speed up your recovery, you can try the following:
- Relieve inflammation with hot and cold therapy
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers and/or muscle relaxers
- Exercise gently to promote blood flow
- Strengthen the muscles that surround your spine
- Go to physical therapy
- Try acupuncture or massage therapy
- Get epidural injections
The best thing you can do while waiting for your herniated disc to heal is to move carefully and minimize pressure and irritation on your herniated disc. Avoid wearing high heels, sleeping on your stomach, lifting heavy objects, and standing or sitting for long periods. It’s also important to practice good posture while sitting and standing.
With some time and healthy habits, your herniated disc may gradually shrink back into place and stop causing pain.
When time isn’t enough
What happens to the other 10% of herniated discs that need more than time and rest to heal properly? If your herniated disc hasn’t healed, the next step is surgery. We also recommend surgery if you have new or worsening symptoms, such as:
- Uncontrollable pain
- Numbness and weakness
- Trouble standing or walking
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
In most cases, we remove only the protruding portion of the disc, but in severe cases, we may remove the entire disc. We never want to leave a herniated disc to its own devices for too long, especially because some herniated discs can result in pressure on your entire spinal canal, leading to permanent weakness or paralysis.
Avoiding herniated discs in the future
To sidestep herniated discs in the future, consider these strategies:
- Do exercises that strengthen and stabilize the muscles in your back
- Always maintain good posture
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
Suspect you have a herniated disc? We can confirm a herniated disc quickly with a physical examination and diagnostic imaging test. If we see a problem with your disc, we create a customized treatment plan. Call our friendly staff at 424-232-8930 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment and end your herniated disc pain.