Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical How does a herniated disc heal.

  1. Jun 18, 2010 #1
    I may have a herniated disc in my spine. I am currious by what actions the body repairs the disc? Is the ruptured material of the disc reabsorbed into the body? Can a flattened disc grow thicker with rest, does this happen while we sleep?

    I Have re injured my back 5 or 6 times to varying degrees over 3 or so years. It seems the re injury occurs with little warning other then the bad disc was over used and abused more then average over a period of a week or two.

    After about two weeks of problems, rest and reducing weight on the spine seem to help. The numbness in my thigh is going away and I can work a little more each day before things get painful.

    Thank you for any help!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2010 #2
    A herniation is not a rupture, and this is a very important distinction. A herniated disc is just that, herniated, or "bulging". The disc has moved, it has not ruptured. In time, these discs CAN return to their normal position, or at least one where the nerve is no longer impinged. Reducing pressure on the spine allows this to happen by increasing separation between vertebrae.

    A ruptured disc, needs surgery in many cases. The material of the disc can in fact, be reabsorbed by the body, but it never "grows back". The problems with your thigh (peripheral neuropathy) which for your sake I hope is not involvement with the sciatic nerve (ouch!) returning to normal is an excellent sign.

    You need to see a doctor about this, if you have not already, and look into what is indicated and contraindicated. Based on your experience, non-surgical spinal decompression sounds like the way to go, along with working on supporting muscles with a physical therapist.

    I don't know what your age is, but if you're a young man, you need to stop doing whatever it is you're doing. Discs don't grow thicker, bigger, or better; they degenerate, and surgical options often include ablation or other forms of removal; you don't want lumbar spinal fusion in your future.

    So, to answer your second sentence, the repair is nonexistent, or rather it is purely mechanical.
  4. Jun 18, 2010 #3
  5. Aug 10, 2011 #4
    It sounds like a herniated disc but you can't really be sure until you get it checked by a specialist. I would have it checked the earliest time possible before it gets any worse.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2011
  6. Aug 10, 2011 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Well done for wanting to help jaz14a but this thread is over a year old, the disc is most likely healed now.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook