Heriated disc partially hanging down spinal column

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain

Heriated disc partially hanging down spinal column

Postby Jay » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:41 pm

Fellow Rebuilders,
Having recently been to the surgeon and having surgery recommended, I would like to know what would become of the part of my disc (L4-L5) if I were to start the rebuilding process? Will the part hanging down my spinal column shrivel up? Or will it un-pinch itself and become a part of the rest of the disc?
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Postby cygnet » Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:26 pm

Hi Jay,

I'm no doctor, but from what I've read and been told, the part of the disc that has herniated does get reabsorbed by the body very gradually. Dean's article about herniated discs addresses this issue as well.

Whether you need surgery or whether it would be safe for you to wait and try rebuilding would depend on your particular situation. It's important to check with your doctor to know if your situation is one of those rare cases where surgical intervention is necessary to avoid permanent, serious damage.

There was a NY Times article back in November that reported on a large study that attempted to determine whether surgery or conservative treatment was better for sciatica from herniated discs. The conclusion was that both worked about equally well, and at 5 years, the outcomes were about the same for both groups. Some people scheduled for surgery decided against it because they either improved on their own, or out of fear of surgery. Other people scheduled for conservative treatment ended up going for surgery because they couldn't bear the pain.
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Postby randolph » Sat Jan 13, 2007 6:42 am

Hi Jay

I'm assuming you've started your adventure with your abnormal disc because you're in pain, and an MRI revealed problems with the L4-L5 disc?

You might want to read the article A KNIFE IN THE BACK at jeromegroopman.com to get a good overview on some of the problems with surgery that the surgeon isn't going to tell you about.

It's difficult to say whether the disc gets reabsorbed. Like Cygnet said, there are some indications it does get reabsorbed, but some of those indications are the result of assuming that the pain is caused by the abnormal disc in the first place: if you assume the presence of the disc herniation is the cause of the pain, and then the pain goes away, it seems reasonable to assume the herniation has been reabsorbed .... but who knows, whoever gets another MRI to find out THAT after the pain is gone? But the important part, Jay, is that the pain is most likely temporary and most people recover 100% without surgery (regardless of what happens to the disc abnormality), using more conservative treatment options, like PT.

(Excuse, Jay, I need to ask Cygnet a question here. Cygnet, do you have a date for that Nov NYTimes article you referred to?

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Postby cygnet » Sat Jan 13, 2007 7:27 am

Hi Randolph,

You can find the article by doing a search on the authors name: Gina Kolata
The article was published on November 22, 2006.

I read about the reabsorbtion in a book a friend gave me: Back Pain Remedies for Dummies. A study was done with MRIs after 6 months, and it showed that the size of the herniations shrank. My doctor also mentioned it.


(Edit by Admin)
Here's the link to the NYTimes Article.
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Hanging Disc

Postby Jay 2 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 11:59 am

Thank You for your response. A friend of mine at work saw his Doc yesterday and took my question with him. The Doc said the hanging part would shrink up, I guess that is reabsorbtion. He told my friend that in his opinion that neither one of us needed surgery since our pain has subsided. I was told the disc was pressing against a nerve causing my numbness in my toes and the other pain in my leg. Since my cortisone treatment the swelling has gone down, leaving the pain as tolerable. (now pain meds for over a week). I'm starting the Dean's exercise program. "Very slowly" thanks again.
Jay 2

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