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bl4mm0's avatar

I have an 8mm herniated disk (L5) and still have pain after a year. Will I have a chance to heal without surgery?

Asked by bl4mm0 (18 points ) November 11th, 2009

I had an MRI that shows an 8mm herniation that is pushing on my nerve and causing pain. The pain comes and goes, and is less in the morning and more as the day goes on. I do exercises (pelvic lift, yoga poses) on a daily basis and use an inversion rack on occasion. I should probably use it more. I sit at a desk (with a good chair), and I sit on the bus for a couple hours a day. Before noon, I normally need to take a Norco and then another a few hours later just to get through the day without freaking out. Anybody ever heal up from something like this?

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8 Answers

adri027's avatar

My dads been having a herniated disc since 1983. He got shot and still to this day he is constantly complaining about the pain :(

MrBr00ks's avatar

my brother is going to have surgery for his disk, and after several years, no, it hasnt healed. and he is only 31.

casheroo's avatar

My father has a herniated disc in L4 and L5. He got a shot of cortisone and sees his physiatrist who helps manage the pain. But, since the shot, he has been practically pain free.

wilma's avatar

I had surgery for my ruptured spinal disk. It was essential and I had no choice, body functions were shutting down. I had a good experience with my surgery.
I think a Drs opinion, and then a second opinion is your best bet.

scamp's avatar

I have 6 herniated and or buldging dics in my back, and the pain never goes completely away, but since I have had this problem for almost 20 years, I have pretty much gotten used to it. Some days are worse than others, but it’s just something I had to learn to live with. I didn’t want to have surgery because my ex husband had too much surgery and the scar tissue from that is now more of a problem than the original injury.

It sounds like you are on the right track by doing yoga and the inversion rack, because keeping the muscles strong helps a lot with pain relief. I see a chiropractor from time to time to get an adjustment when it gets bad, but that is only a temporary fix.

I agree with Wilma about getting a second opinion before you consider any surgeries. there are many methods used by surgeons, so you should ask a lot of questions to make sure whatever surgical procedure is recommended to you is the right one for your particular problem.

I got some good advice from a surgeon who I took my ex to when he was considering more surgery. My ex was worried he was losing his ability to walk because of sudden weakness and falls.

The surgeon said this and I quote: “I’ve never seen anyone end up in a wheelchair because of a condition like yours, but I have seen people end up disabled by too much surgery. the rule of thumb with back surgery is, it you don’t get it right the first, or maybe the second time.. you should stop and seek long term pain control, because there isn’t much point in continuing with surgical procedures that will cause scar tissue/damage to nerves”

I thought this was good advice, and I took it to heart. I have been able to function without surgery so far because early in my injury, I had a good chiroprator who taught me back mechanics and how to protect my spine from further injury. When I show doctors my MRI today, they are in awe that I was able to walk into their office! I think you might want to talk with a good physical therapist also. They can give you some pretty good strengthening exercises to keep the pain at bay. Don’t forget to get up and walk around at least once per hour also. Sitting long term is very hard on your back. I hope you are able to find some releif and a way to live with this problem. I know.. it’s no fun at all!!

Austinlad's avatar

I agree with Wilma. Get several opinions. I had surgery on L5 many years ago and am fine today. But it took cortisone after the surgery to reduce swelling that was causing pain months later. A second surgery was recommended by one doctor but scoffed at by another. Glad I took the second opinion to heart. Let me add that surgical techniques have vastly changed since I had my operation, which is why you need several consultations.

Darwin's avatar

I have a herniated disk at C5-C6. I had physical therapy which has reduced the amount of pain that I have, but I must be careful the rest of my life not to get into certain positions. I don’t know if you can heal after a year. I am told that after a certain amount of time it calcifies or otherwise becomes unchangeable, but that if undertaken early enough physical therapy can help the disk heal into a shape that doesn’t impinge on the nerves.

Back surgery can be a difficult proposition. I think @scamp has pretty much explained how it goes. My doctor sent me to a neurosurgeon who basically said that unless you are losing the ability to walk or have such great pain that you cannot function even with meds, you should try whatever you can to reduce your pain and find a way to live with it. Or as this site puts it:

“Since invasive back surgery is not always successful, it should be performed only in patients with progressive neurologic disease or damage to the peripheral nerves.”

I, too, suggest several opinions. There are also newer options for back surgery that result in less downtime. There is more information on lumbar back surgery here.

john65pennington's avatar

I never did. The pain became unbearable. You will know when its time for surgery. When you cannot put one foot in front of the other, is the time for surgery.

I do not wish this upon you, but after four back surgeries, I can tell you from my personal experiences, that your back problem will not improve. Your pain may be less one day and more the next day. A minor bump into a door or just leaning over to pick up a bar of soap, can be disaster for a person with a bad back.

As a general rule, back problems are associated with tall people, but not always. If you have one surgery, you will have another,

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