Your back is your best friend. You take care of it, work on it, and spend a lot of time with it. But what happens when something goes wrong?
Up to two percent of individuals suffer from herniated disks each year, but the good news is that herniated disk pain can be relieved without surgery! Read on to find out how long for a herniated disc to heal quickly.
What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disk is a spine (backbone) injury. The vertebrae in our spines stretch from the base of the skull to the tailbone, with a series of bones (vertebrae) in between. Disks are spherical cushions found in between the vertebrae.
The disks between our vertebra serve as support or buffers, allowing us to bend and move without difficulty. A herniated or slipped disk occurs when one of these disks ruptures or leaks.
What causes a herniated disc?
A herniated disk sometimes happens when the spine is twisted, turned, or compressed. The trauma can cause one of these disks to rupture. This injury may occur because of an accident where you are rear-ended by another car while driving. A lifting injury can also result in a herniated disc if you lift something improperly and twist it at the same time.
The ruptured disk material (gel) leaks out of the disc between your vertebrae and may press on a nerve that starts sending pain signals to your brain via nerves that exit through holes in the bones of your spine called foramen.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
Herniated disk problems manifest in a variety of ways, depending on where the issue is in your spine. Movement exacerbates symptoms, but rest relieves them.
Symptoms include mild to severe pain, which can be on one side or both sides of your back around the ruptured disk area. You can have tingling, numbness or weakness in your legs and/or feet, as well as varying degrees of difficulty with bowel and bladder control.
What are the different types of treatment for a herniated disc?
There are several approaches for dealing with a herniated disc besides prescription pain medication, physical therapy, and surgery. How much time you need to heal is different for every person. How long the recovery takes depends on how bad your condition was, your age, the extent of damage to the surrounding disks or vertebrae, if there was any nerve compression involved and how well you follow the therapy instructions given by your doctor.
A herniated disk pain can also be approached with natural remedies that provide relief from back pain. It is important to mention that you need to know what type of herniated disc you have if it is classified as a protrusion or extrusion.
Protrusion: A bulging portion of the intervertebral disc pushes out through an opening in the bone or vertebrae. The nucleus pulposus (the center, jelly-like substance) has escaped from the center of the annulus fibrosis (tough exterior). If you suspect that you have this type of herniated disc, then ice therapy should be applied immediately because it helps reduce swelling and inflammation and can minimize permanent damage caused by compression on nerve roots.
Extrusion: This occurs when the inner nucleus pulposus escapes between the vertebrae. It is most likely to happen when the annulus fibrosis ruptures, and this can cause numbness in your arms or legs, severe back pain, and even paralysis. Doctors usually recommend surgery to repair the damaged disc if extrusion is suspected.
Disc herniation most commonly occurs in the lower back because it bears more stress than other parts of the spine. The damage caused by a fractured disc varies depending on how much pressure has been exerted on the surrounding nerves, muscles, bones, ligaments and tissues around them. If you are suffering from constant pain that does not seem to disappear after applying ice therapy for days, then you should consult a doctor immediately so he can prescribe antibiotics or medication.
How long does it take to heal without surgery?
How long does it take for a herniated disc to heal? How fast do herniated discs heal? How can you help yourself to get rid of a herniated disc without surgery? These are just some of the questions that new herniated disc sufferers are asking. How long it takes for a herniated disc to heal depends on how fast you act, how severe your herniated disk is and if there is any permanent damage involved.
A ruptured or herniated disc can resolve on its own within 2-3 months, but this will depend on the severity of the injury. The recovery time frame may also be affected by whether or not you seek medical attention. A mild case that doesn't produce severe pain may require only bed rest, physical therapy exercises, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or aspirin and a gradual return to normal activities.
In more serious cases, spinal surgery may be required, which can add several months to the recuperation process.
In short, there is no precise answer on how long herniated disc will take to heal without surgery. Everyone heals differently, which means it is difficult to tell how fast you will recover from this type of injury. Many people have healed quickly with natural remedies and simple exercises that do not involve surgery or doctor's visits. However, others have taken longer than expected before they felt relief from sciatica symptoms.
When should I see a doctor about my back pain?
Herniated disc or not, it is crucial to know when to see or doctor about your back pain.
The following are some of the symptoms that call for a doctor's visit:
- Pain down your leg below the knee
- Your pain lasts longer than three days
- You cannot bear weight or walk without a limp
- You have numbness in your legs, feet, hands, fingers or buttock area
- The pain is sharp and limits physical activity
- Your back pain is accompanied by fever
- Your symptoms are provoked by coughing or sneezing
If you experience any of these problems, then consult a doctor immediately. These symptoms may indicate a severe condition that can lead to paralysis if not treated.
Quick tips on how to get relief from your back pain
Back pain can be a serious problem, and it's easy to feel hopeless when you're suffering from it. Here are some quick solutions for alleviating your back discomfort at home. You can try these ways of dealing with your back pain without visiting a doctor:
Take care of your posture.
Sitting in a slouched position can cause your back to ache. To avoid this problem, try sitting with a straight back and neck while working at a desk.
And if you are having trouble keeping your back straight (with the appropriate slight curvature of the spine), you can use posture correctors like Mesh Lumbar Back Support and/or Easy Posture corrector Back Brace.
Never sit for too long.
When you spend extended time sitting down without taking breaks, your muscles grow weak from being in the same position for so long. To loosen up your legs and back, take frequent rest breaks from sitting.
Slowly warm-up before exercising.
If you suddenly jolt into exercise mode, you might harm yourself by pulling a muscle or straining a ligament because your muscles are cold and not flexible enough yet. Try going through some easy exercises to get warmed up before moving on to a more strenuous physical activity.
For instance, you can try a simple yoga routine or a few minutes on an exercise bike.
Eat a healthy diet.
You need to make sure you get plenty of protein and iron while avoiding salt and sugar. Protein is essential for making new cells; iron carries oxygen to your muscles, and both are integral for strong bones.
Instead, eat foods rich in vitamin D (like salmon), antioxidants (like berries) and calcium (dairy). Also, consider taking supplements like glucosamine chondroitin to replenish damaged bone cartilage, which can reduce pain.
Exercise gradually and progressively.
If you're recovering from a herniated disc, exercising too hard can exacerbate the damage to your spine. That's why it's important to ease into your routine slowly over time.
As your strength and mobility improve, work up to doing more intense exercises once or twice a week.
If you have any pain when exercising, stop immediately.
If you are unable to do basic standing or sitting activities, physical therapy can help.
Your doctor may suggest strengthening exercises for your back muscles and core muscles to keep the spine stable.
The goal is to balance between strength and flexibility. Resistance training strengthens back muscles that support the spine, while stretching helps increase mobility in your low back.
Try Pilates or yoga.
Pilates and yoga exercises help build strength in your core and low back.
Make sure to keep the spine stable by engaging the right muscles. Your doctor, physical therapist, or health care provider can show you how.
At first, try doing these exercises at least twice a week until you get stronger, then at least once or twice a week to maintain your lower back strength and mobility.
Take over-the-counter pain medications.
If the problem persists, talk with your doctor about prescription painkillers or muscle relaxers to reduce your discomfort.
Try using a warm and cold compress.
Back pain and discomforts can be effectively reduced by alternating between hot and cold. A hot gel pack will help you relax the muscles, increase blood flow and get rid of toxins. Cold packs can constrict your blood vessels, which reduces swelling and pain.
A physical therapist can show you how to do it at home or recommend a product that releases both heat and cold in a single pad, such as Reusable Gel Ice Packs & Ice Wrap Holder.
Try a TENS unit.
TENS, short for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, is a therapy that uses electric currents to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Simply attach the TENS pads into your skin in the area where you feel pain and turn on the machine to experience mild electrical impulses in the region where you're hurting.
Ask your doctor about steroid injections.
For some individuals, steroid injections are quite beneficial (not helpful for everyone). The steroid works by decreasing the amount of inflammation in the area around the herniated disc. The decrease in inflammation decreases pain and can even help to heal a small tear.
Get an MRI before considering surgery.
MRIs are necessary before considering having one's vertebral discs operated on due to their costly nature and risk involved with such procedures. If you get one, your doctor will be able to see the extent of your herniated disc and better advise you on the steps to take going forward.
If you've tried these options but still aren't pain-free, ask your doctor about what you can do next. If your herniated disc is too large, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain and other symptoms. Surgery might be something to consider!
There is no guarantee how long it will take for a herniated disc to heal without surgery. This will depend on how fast your body can respond to changes in activity level and overall health. For instance, if you have diabetes or another pre-existing medical condition, this can affect your recovery time. A herniated or slipped disc is a serious medical condition that requires the care of a medical professional.
Be sure to visit your doctor or spine specialist if you struggle with serious pain, numbness or tingling, bowel problems, bladder issues, weakness in any part of your body, or loss of bladder control. These are signs you may have more damage than just a herniated disc and may need surgery to prevent further complications.
A herniated disc (also called slipped, bulged, or ruptured) is a common problem that can be caused by ageing, injury, or chronic conditions such as pregnancy. There are many treatments for this condition, and experts generally recommend trying conservative therapies before opting for surgical intervention. The length of time it takes for a herniated disc to heal without surgery varies depending on the severity and type of symptoms but usually ranges from three months up to two years.
If you have been living with back pain due to herniated disc or another type of symptom related to your spine, don't wait! Try some natural remedies like stretching exercises, over-the-counter medication (pain relievers), topical creams/gels containing menthol or capsaicin, which will help reduce inflammation, and posture correctors or lumbar supports.