Can discs heal on their own?

Many people believe that once you have a “bulging disc” that you’ve been sentenced with a bad back for life.

A recent meta -analysis (Zhong et al 2017) has shown that 2/3 of disc bulges spontaneously heal on their own. Many of these being within a few months, not a matter of years.

This is a positive finding to support the benefits of conservative (non-surgical) treatment. There is a time and place for lumbar surgery. However, currently there is a trend for this to be the first option for people to take. Upon receiving MRI results, many people are racing to book in for the soonest neurosurgery, without contemplating the risks associated with surgery. This study reveals the importance of conservative management, as it allows the body to get its greatest opportunity to heal on its own!

Conservative treatment allows the avoidance of the following surgery risks:

  • Post-surgical impairments (pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion)
  • Psychological issues associated with surgery
  • Potential non-improvement of symptoms
  • Surgical risks in theatre
  • Financial burden



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