Can a Herniated Disc Heal Without Medical Treatment?

When a disc situated between two vertebrae in the spine ruptures and the fluid contained inside leaks into the spinal canal, it is a herniated disc. Often when people are diagnosed with this condition, or suspect that they are suffering from it, they wonder if the herniated disc can heal on its own without medical treatment. Sometimes this is a possibility and doctors will often try this as a first course of action. However, not all herniated discs heal on their own.

There are many conservative treatments that can help heal herniated discs. These treatments are intended to reduce the symptoms of a herniated disc and help the patient feel more comfortable as the disc heals.

In some cases, a doctor may wait to see if resorption will help the disc. This process occurs when the body naturally absorbs the fluid that leaked out and uses it to heal the herniated disc. Depending on how much damage there is, this is a process that can take several months. But, if it works, the herniated disc will heal on its own without medical treatment.

Conservative Treatments for Disc Injuries

Other conservative treatments that can help heal a herniated disc involve low-impact exercises that can help a person lose weight and strengthen their core. Losing weight can help a herniated disc as it leaves less weight for the back to carry and distribute, thus placing less pressure on the disc. Strengthening the core often helps with a herniated disc because the core of the body also carries weight and when it is better able to do this, it lightens the load on the spine and discs.

Patients can exercise independently. Activities such as walking every day or engaging in other low-impact exercises can help. A doctor may suggest the patient start with this type of activity, or they may suggest physical therapy, which is a non-invasive medical treatment.

What May a Doctor Recommend?

Doctors will typically recommend these forms of conservative treatments to give the body time and exercises to help it heal on its own. However, if a patient undergoes these treatments for several months with little or no signs of improvement in the herniated disc, a doctor may recommend spinal surgery.

Surgery of course, is an invasive form of treatment, particularly when compared with the other forms of non-invasive treatments for a herniated disc. Because of this, it is in the interest of the patient to try conservative treatments first, and doctors will most often recommend them before considering surgery as an option.