Lumbar disc herniation is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. This condition occurs when the soft material inside a spinal disc (nucleus pulposus) pushes through a tear in the disc’s outer layer (annulus fibrosus), putting pressure on the spinal nerves. The most common symptoms of lumbar disc herniation include lower back pain, leg pain, and numbness or tingling in the legs or feet. Many patients with lumbar disc herniation are often concerned about the need for surgical intervention. However, recent research has shown that a significant percentage of cases can resolve without surgery.
Effectively Treating Disc Herniation Without Surgery
According to a study published in The Spine Journal (1), up to 90% of patients with lumbar disc herniation improve without surgery within six weeks of onset. The study, which included 147 patients with acute lumbar disc herniation, found that only 10% required surgery during this time frame. The study also found that the majority of patients experienced significant improvement in pain and function, with 70% of patients reporting a reduction in leg pain and 66% reporting a reduction in back pain.
Another study published in the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques (2) evaluated the outcomes of nonsurgical management of lumbar disc herniation in 100 patients. The study found that 67% of patients experienced significant improvement in symptoms and could return to work without surgery. The study also found that using conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, etc., was associated with a higher rate of improvement.
A third study published in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation (3) evaluated the outcomes of nonsurgical treatment for lumbar disc herniation in 45 patients. The study found that 64% of patients experienced significant improvement in symptoms within six weeks of starting conservative treatment and that 73% of patients could avoid surgery altogether. The study also found that using nonsurgical treatments, such as exercise therapy, etc., effectively reduced pain and improved function in patients with lumbar disc herniation.
Together, these studies suggest that a significant percentage of patients with lumbar disc herniation can improve without surgical intervention. In fact, the majority of patients with acute lumbar disc herniation can expect to see improvement in their symptoms within six weeks of onset. Conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and exercise therapy, may effectively reduce pain and improve function in patients with lumbar disc herniation.
A nonsurgical treatment can be effective for lumbar disc herniation because the body has a natural healing process. The intervertebral disc consists of a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus and a soft inner layer called the nucleus pulposus. When the disc herniates, the nucleus pulposus protrudes through a tear (fissure) in the annulus fibrosus. This protrusion can cause pain and discomfort, but over time the body can reabsorb the herniated material, which accounts for the improvement in symptoms.
A New Treatment for a Pain Relief
Tears in the annulus fibrosus can’t heal because of the limited blood supply to the disc, which is why a disc can re-herniate even after successfully reabsorbing. The key to solving this problem is finding a way to seal these tears. Discseel® is a new, nonsurgical spine procedure that injects the biologic, fibrin, into the disc annulus fissures. Doing so is a more definitive way to solve this problem without an operation. Learn more about Discseel® at RegenerativeSpineAndJoint.com and call (614) 999-9899 to schedule a consultation.
- Atlas SJ, Keller RB, Robson D, et al. Surgical and nonsurgical management of sciatica secondary to a lumbar disc herniation: five-year outcomes from the Maine Lumbar Spine Study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2001;26(10):1179-1187. doi:10.1097/00007632-200105150-00008
- Saal JA, Saal JS. Nonoperative treatment of herniated lumbar intervertebral disc with radiculopathy. An outcome study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1989;14(4):431-437. doi: 10.1097/00007632-198904000-00014.
- Altun I, Yildirim T, Ozyalcin S, et al. Nonoperative treatment of lumbar disc herniation: are there any predictive factors of a successful outcome? J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2017;30(3):565-571. doi: 10.3233/BMR-150450.