Herniated Disc Healing Time

"What Is The Fastest Way To Heal A Herniated Disc?"
by Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki

The fastest way to heal a herniated disc? I guess that depends a little bit on what you mean by heal. If you're waiting for your body to recover naturally, that can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even months. And there's not anything necessarily that you can do to accelerate your own healing process. There are interventions that can help with symptoms while you wait for that to occur.

So typically, the disc herniation causes a severe amount of inflammation of a nerve root, which causes a severe amount of pain. That in combination with direct pressure on nerves can affect the symptoms. So early treatments are typically aggressive anti-inflammatory treatments, steroid medications, anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin, Ibuprofen. Those medications where we're targeting the inflammation can be effective at alleviating symptoms sooner. Sometimes if the symptoms are severe and not responding to those medications, we can try steroid injections, epidural steroid injections directly into the area like a cortisone shot into the area can decrease inflammation and rapidly improve symptoms. Those treatments are a little bit variable. Sometimes they're very effective and work very quickly. In some settings, they're not effective at all and they provide very little relief.

So in settings of severe pain or severe nerve dysfunction, surgical options can be done. And I will tell you from personal experience that with a herniated disc in the neck with severe pain when surgery is done to remove that fragment and take the pressure off the nerve, patients will often wake up from surgery with pain relief. In the recovery room, they will say, “Wow, my arm feels great and that severe pain I had is now gone!” So in the right setting, and when done appropriately, surgery can give almost immediate relief of the nerve pain related to a disc herniation.

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Dr. J. Alex Sielatycki