Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

how long does it take a disc to heal once herniated

tammycttammyc Posts: 894
edited 05/13/2014 - 4:25 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

Does anyone have any idea how long it takes for a disc to heal after it's been herniated, assuming that it's going to? I realize that sometimes it just never goes back into place and has to be operated on, but I'm assuming that this disc is healing and will shrink back into spot.

How long should i wait before seeing my doctor? I was starting to feel a bit better over the weekend, but today I went for a walk and to therapy and now I'm back to the same awful pain all over again. I really wanted to wait til the end of the month to talk to my spine surgeon about it, but the pain is really getting to me and I think I may need to see someone before that.



  • Bummer that you are so easily able to irritate it. My experience has been that depending on the way or position that the disc herniated, determines how long it takes to heal. Generally 6 months is what I've always been told, but more difficult herniations can take a couple years.

  • From my experience with a herniated disc at C6/C7, it's been about 8 months since I first got the official diagnosis. About two months into healing I relapsed by trying to lift something way too heavy and had 3 weeks of awful pain. Since then I've been getting better, but am still not 100% - don't know if I'll ever be 100%, but it's been 6 months and while I am significantly better, I'm not all the way yet.

    Unfortunately, I've heard everything from 6 weeks to more than a year, so I guess patience is key (and I'm not good at patience!).

    Best of luck to you.
  • yes now that you say that i kinda remember my therapist telling me a long time ago that it takes quite a while for a disc to heal itself.I guess it doesn't help having the whiplash as well,sometimes its hard to figure out what pain is from what,but i definitely know the pain i'm feeling at the moment is from the disc.I tried to get into the doctors today but everytime i called it was busy.If i don't get through tomorrow i'm just going to the walk in clinic.The pain meds. i have now aren't helping with the pain and exercising makes it even worse so i need something different.I also heard that whenever you re injure that disc your time starts all over again.You don't count from the original time that you hurt it.
  • I think that's accurate - the part about once you reinjure a disc, the clock starts over again.

    I'm not expert, but from the research I've done online, I've read that a disc can heal itself over time, but one has to be careful about developing scar tissue, which can impinge a nerve itself. Apparently oxygen is what helps heal, and the discs on their own don't get much oxygen. One chiro doc suggested bouncing up and down on an exercise ball (the big ones you see at gyms) for 5 min. a day. I do that daily, along with cervical traction with my home unit. I also take Glucosamine Chondroitin daily after reading one study that suggested it can help repair discs. I don't know if it has helped, but I have been feeling better, and the stuff isn't bad for you, so I figure it's worth the investment.

    I try to walk a lot of stairs, too (I work on the 9th floor of my building, so that helps). I think the motion is like that of bouncing on that exercise ball, so in my mind I feel like it also helps 'pump' oxygen into the disc.

    All I can say is be patient and be consistent with therapy/drugs/other treatment. I was in very severe pain for weeks, couldn't sleep in my bed for months and was just depressed, worn out, upset, etc. I basically was a different person. But I have eventually gotten better and feel as if I will continue to do so.

    Best of luck to you!
  • i called my doctors yesterday to see if i could schedule an apt. to get my back looked at,i woke up in the morning and i coudn't bend over again.I told the nurse what was wrong and she said they didn't have any opening until May5th. I couldn't believe it. I told my therapist today and he was shocked he just shook his head.So i decided to go the clinic after therapy and see what they would do for me,the doctor didn't even examine my back he just wrote me out a perscription for pain meds.I guess no one wants to look at my back.LOL.
  • This is exactly what's wrong with the US today - doctors prescribing pain meds without a thorough exam. Not that you didn't need them, but where I live, prescription drug abuse is a HUGE problem, and these kind of doctors are fueling the fire. I wouldn't go back to see that quack if I were you.

    Keep us updated on your progress.
  • I had C4-C7 surgery December '07. The surgery helped the right arm/shoulder pain, but now I am having left shoulder/arm pain. It isn't as intense YET as the right was, but I just had another MRI and the surgeon said that there was nothing he could do surgically to help me and suggested I go to a Physiotrist or Pain Clinic. I am so frustrated as I understood the surgery would take all the nerve pain away. I am on tramadol but that only deadens the pain. There are times that when I move my arm "wrong" that the pain is so intense that I think I am going to pass out. I just lost my job and now because of the pain, I am not able to do jobs that require any lifting, etc. Anyone else having this problem almost 18 months post surgery?
  • jharing,

    I can't say i've had that problem but i was told before my fusion that he wouldn't guarantee that it would help any of my pain problem.For me that was just an added bonus that i was able to get off my pain meds after the surgery.The only reason i'm on them now is because of the whiplash from the car accident.
    when i see my doctor next month if she refuses me pain medications i'm going to ask to be sent to a pain clinic because she's made herself very clear to me that she doesn't want anything to do with perscribing me pain meds.
    The doctor at the clinic was just the opposite went right ahead and gave me the perscription but he did only give me enough until i see my own doc. next month.I'm just glad i have something that calms down the pain,i was in a lot of pain,it was all i could do not to break down infront of my therapist yesterday and even left early to go to the clinic.
  • my physio chick put me in a type of "traction" that is good if you are game enuf to try it on a yoga/pilates ball. (the big one you sit on) you have to have relatively good balance, so get "comfy" with the ball sitting first!

    sit, roll slowly down off of it and when the contour of the ball hits the middle of your back, very slowly lift one arm then the other until you are hyperextending your spine you will feel the stretch in all your discs, and it does help "reoxygenate" the discs....but you have to be consitent and persistent (and its way cheaper than paying to have professional traction with a vax-d or buying an inversion table)
  • Physio "chick"? Not to sound harsh, but the many health care professionals who work so hard to help us all overcome our issues are deserving of our respect. I'm sure you didn't mean this to sound as dismissive as it came off.
  • How do you know if your herniation has healed? How do you know if your herniation has gotten worse?

    I assume pain is an indicator - but what are some of your experiences with this...
  • not really sure,my lower back is starting to feel better although i still have pain running down my legs my lower back doesn't hurt like it did.When i start to see that my legs are feeling better then i'll no for sure that things are calming down.Its been almost a month now or more and am still having pain.My other discs never did heal so i couldn't say what it felt like.I would imagine the pain goes away and you feel better LOL.
  • Just wanted to say hello and man, you've been through a lot. Sure wish you were doing better. I know i've asked before, but can't remember your answer. Have you had an MRI since the car accident?

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I had a mri just after the accident and just had another one two weeks ago and i go back to see my surgeon tomorrow for my one year check up.They will do an x-ray before i see him tomorrow as well.Ya its been quite the year,just when i thought everything was going to be better everything goes to hell =)) gotta laugh about it.How long do most surgeon hang onto there patients for? Just wondering.I plan on asking him about my fusion i know that they said that there was more fusion the last time i was there but they never said how far along i was.There can't be that much to fuse together i do have titanium implants.LOL I'm back to using my cane when i go for long walks.I try for an hour at a time.Got tired of walking across the sidewalks,back and forth ,back and forth,at least with the cane i can walk in a straight line.My therapist knows about it ,he told me it was fine to use it then but i couldn't have it with me in the clinic.He wants me using all my muscles as much as i can.My neck seems to be stuck half way between straight and looking to the right.I get it half way and it won't go any farther.Been like that for three weeks now.We were doing ultra sound on it and it had loosened up nicely,my massage therapist had said how soft the muscles were so we switched to doing ultra sound on my mid and lower back to relax those muscles and after a week my neck muscles started to tighten back up again.I can't win. My therapist won't help me stretch it out because i'm not fused yet and he said that he could try once my surgeon gives him the ok but til then i'm on my own as far as stretching goes. Wonderful!!!!! Oh and HI BACK :H lol.
  • Tammy, as I recall you have a plate over your fusion site and used cadaver bone for the fusion graft. This is something you'll want to confirm with your doctor, but I'll try to explain what I have learned.

    When they do an ACDF, they remove the discs in between the vertebrae, and put a bone graft in the section where the disc was, often "jacking up" the vertebrae to create the proper height for the bone graft to be inserted into.

    These grafts, whether your own bone or donor bone need to grow together with the vertebral body above and below. So say for your top level done, you have the C4 Vertebral body, the bone graft, and then the C5 vertebral body. In your case, you then have another bone graft, C6, another bone graft, and then C7. Those bone grafts are supposed to grow together with the original vertebral bodies to create one solid piece, or "fusion". The titanium plate you have is basically there to hold things together until this fuses solidly.

    If the bone does not grow together, eventually the graft will die and this creates a weakness to the area. The donor bone can even shrivel up and be absorbed by your own body if a significant amount of fusion hasn't occurred, because it receives blood and oxygen through your own bones. Anyway, if you do not create solid fusion, the potential for weakness is there, and as things weaken, the screws have the potential for wiggling loose and causing an instability to your neck. That is why I asked if your fusion is solid, and why I feel it is important that they check this since you have been struggling for so long.

    Usually after about a year it has been long enough to know and the doctors can do a CT scan if there is any question.

    You may already understand all of this, but I felt prompted to explain it because of your statement that you have titanium implants, but those implants are only as good as the surface holding the screws in place. If enough wiggling happens, you could end up with a "false joint" with is otherwise known as pseudoarthrosis, or failure to fuse. I'm in no way saying this is what is going on with you, but I do think you need to be pushing your doctors for some help. I personally don't think that your problems are solely coming from your post fusion whiplash incident. Don't give up yet!

    Good luck with your doctor appointment, and please let me know what they say.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • OMG there is hope?!?

    How is it without other problems to the disc (Info listed in sig)? My PA-C said the doctor should be telling me that I will deal with this for the rest of my existence, and yet it is all mild to moderate non surgery needing stuff.

    Gosh I hope it heals. I don't know how long it has been a hot mess, but I've been experiencing pain etc for a year and a half. Some stuff is better, but it can be a real pain 95 percent of the time, depending on what I am doing or not doing.

    Is this for herniated disc after an accident or injury? Because mine seemed to happen out of nowhere, although I was in a Car Accident 12 years ago, but hadn't really had anything till now.
  • I'm not really sure, i did have herniated discs there before my surgery they felt ok for a long while afterwards.when i had the car accident i had complained quite a bit about my lower back and said that it felt like the discs had moved somemore.Just felt to me like disc pain but then i had tried to move a box that was too heavy for me and make it even worse.It does feel better then it did a month ago but i'm still having trouble getting out of bed in the morning i can't straighten up ,i walk half way across the bedroom before i'm straight.I'm just very careful now of everything that i do so that it will heal up.
  • how bad does the herniation need to be - before you are taken as a surgical candidate? After 2 + years of conservative treatment - what happens next - the pain is worse now than whent he mri was taken in jan 08 - so i don't believe it has healed....so how big, whatever, before they think surgery?
  • baffled said:
    how bad does the herniation need to be - before you are taken as a surgical candidate? After 2 + years of conservative treatment - what happens next - the pain is worse now than whent he mri was taken in jan 08 - so i don't believe it has healed....so how big, whatever, before they think surgery?
    I think it depends, but my neurologist said about 8mm and if it is compressing the spine. I personally only have 2 to 3 mm's so ...But I still have pain. ugh.

    If your stuff is worse , you might ask your doc if a new mri is necessary or get another opinion. If you don't go to a neuro-surgeon then you could go and see one...I don't know , I've heard that sometimes surgery can make things worse....So they only want to do it as a last resort.
  • are they supposed to do at a clinic? They can't do injections, surgery, therapy, botox, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, etc. What are we expecting from clinics besides the inexpensive price and no appointment necessary?
  • I tried the stretch with my ball and it felt very good to stretch my spine. Thanks for the tip. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I had a car accident in May 2009, L5 S1 is affected. I have my good days and I have my bad days. I still take meds and I also do exercises and go to a chiropractor and do physio.

    Seriously now, how long is this pain going to last. It fluctuates, with the weather, how active or inactive I am and I believe stress plays a part.

    I have heard of people who complain about this thing, many years after their accident. I've also heard that it heals 6-8 weeks later.

    When will this thing go away?
  • Have you had an MRI done? It depends on a lot of things. How bad is the herniation? Where is the disc protruding - foraminal or spinal stenosis? Are you doing activities that aggravate that joint? It's all about finding the right balance to control the pain. I herniated a couple of discs in my lumbar in August 2011. Mostly the pain is gone, but sometimes I feel it more than other times. I try to be very careful to squat and lift.
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • crustyboyccrustyboy Posts: 1
    edited 08/01/2012 - 8:32 PM
    After spending 7 months reading forums on the net I thought I'd join to share my experience...33 years old (UK), herniated disc c6/c7 in Jan'12 due to degenerative disc decease. Unbelievable pain in neck, chest, shoulder and down left arm (including muslce spasms) from Jan-Mar, Mar-May had phsyio, chiro & accupuncture (which helped but expensive!). May - Aug (still having chiro & physio). Significantly better comparte to the start. I beliueve the herniation is 'just touching' the nerve now so I don't get the really crippling pain but the nerve does get inflammed which cause particular muslces to go into hyper-tension and cause muscle knots/trigger points. These are painful to touch and refer pain to other parts of your body - this is my main issue now as it make me ache daily. Im told that it will be a long time before the muscle knots go but I am doing the following activities (after 7 moths of daily research) which I believe have helped me:

    - I don't want to keep pumping anti-inflammatories and pain killers in my body so I take Turmeric capsules which are a natural anti-inflammatory
    - I take magnesium and potassium supplements as they are 'suppose' to help with mucles and bones
    - take cod liver oil tablets and Glucosamine Chondroitin as they are 'supposed' to help long term
    - neck stretches and exercises to keep the load off my spine and help the pain caused by muscle knots
    - i have an inversion table (which I havent tried yet)
    - gentle bounce on an inflatable gym/therapy ball to 'supposedly' help pump blood and oxygen down the spine to aid the flow of nutrients to the disc
    - cut down on smoking as that slows the healing process
    - change of diet, fast and fatty foods aggrevate inflamation and cause me more pain
    - you may want to research an alkalising diet to 'supposedly' heal the body from the inside
    - work on your core muslces to help take the strain off your spine
    - I had 'scenar' therpay at phsio which is similar to a tens machine (but different) which helped
    - massages help but works out expensive
    - sleeping on my back normally results in a less achey day
    - sleeping on my front is a big 'no no' and sleeping on my side tends to make by muslces ache more
    - i am waiting delivery of a memory foam mattress so will see if that helps
    - bought about 7 different pillows (including 3 different memeory foam ones) before i finally found one I found comfortable
    - I drink a lot more fluid as that is suppose to help - it makes sense that a disc that has/or is drying out can only benfit from having more fluid in your body
    - I now take paracetomal maybe once or twice a day every now and again if i am particularly achey
    - Ice pack on my neck helps, I was doing this religously every 20 mins for the 1st 3 months
    - hot baths are suppose to help but that made me ache more
    - and most importantly be aware of your posture!!!especially if you are like me who has spent years in an office chair and used to slouch on the couch!

    I'm now 7 months in and I feel I am 80% better, I occaisionaly get what I describe as a sharp 'nerve pain' in my neck which comes and goes in about 2 seconds but that is quite rare. If your research trigger points or trigger point therapy on the net (if you have muscle knots) there are some good pictures which show where knots can form and where they refer pain to.
    I'm hoping the mucle knots will go but I am setting my expecatation that I have maybe another 6-12 months before they improve.
    I now believe that the 3 main things to focus on is:

    -loosing weight - i read somewhere that every 1 pound overweight adds 10 pounds of pressure to your back!?
    -quit smoking
    -stay fit, focusing on muscle building and endurance to take the strain/pressure off my spine

    I consider myself very lucky that I dont require surgery (hopefully wont do in the future if I am careful) and I need to stay mentally positive which is very hard as chronice pain can really get your down.

    I've never appreciated people back pain until now and I am now passionate about helping people in what ever way i can, evern if that is just to share my experience and what has helped for me.
    i was dreading the thought that I may read surgery and most of the stuff I read on the forum had bad results from surgery....however, I know 3 people in real life that have had surgery on their back years ago and have never looked back. I feel its important to tell people this as their are geniune good results out there...

    I don';t know if the above helps but like my chiro tells me - "do whatever you want if you think it helps, even if it means standing in the corner of the room with a bucket on your head qouted the bible!"

    stay strong, stay positive!

  • Crustyboy, sometimes it just hard to stay positive when you're in pain & have leg weakness. But finding out that it can heal gives me hope. :)
  • Years ago I hurt my back and had a several bad disc. They do heal,it takes some time though.now I am dealing with the same in my neck...if you ate going to a chiro and getting adjustments,stop for a while and see if you get better.
  • I had an MRI done 3 weeks ago and found a herniated disc in my lower back.... I had an injury at work in May---I was out 3 weeks the first doctor had me down as a sprained lower back...then again in june it happened again this time much worse I had to walk with a cane for about a week, they finally sent me for the MRI and that's when they found the herniated disc. I been out again for little over a month.... I go for physical therapy twice a week I actually feel really good.... the Dr said I should be out at least 3 months because of my job ( I Drive a City Bus ) But I would really like to return back to work asap.... what should I do? I don't want a third occurrence ? should I stay out and continue therapy???
  • benlgrobinsonbbenlgrobinson Posts: 3
    edited 06/28/2014 - 10:59 PM
    Im 34yr old Australian guy.

    11yrs ago i herniated L4/L5 with sciatica, back spasms and also drop foot.. i was advised surgery ( to remove the disc content pushing into nerves) decided against it and 9/10 months of diligent rehab, not working just taking care of myself..and i was fine i recovered and have been fine ever since.

    Now 12wks ago herniated C5/C6, with deep pain/ache in tricep area, tingling and numbness down arm into hand/palm/thumb/index finger.

    Right now im 6 wks into conservative therapy..and the pain numbness tingling is fading.

    From what ive read and what i learnt is this...11yrs ago my discs were healthy and i had an accident and it herniated and healed back to a normal healthy disc...right now my disc in my neck is already 'degenerated' and this herniation came out of nowhere for no particular reason..so even though my disc is recovering..am i just rehabilitating an already "useless" disc?

    Discs have zero blood supply and cannot rehydrate, the disc can repair and heal but if already degenerated u most likely have stenosis, bone spurs, facet joint degrading etc (i have all of these too).

    So im told i need to get rid of this disc by some surgeons as its cactus already but many people over 60 literally have no discs and no pains etc..everyone is unique and everyone who is in earths gravity has degeneration of some degree from 30s onwards.

    Im confident my disc will heal as it is and quickly but due to it being a "diseased" disc as in all the degenerative things happening already then should it be removed anyways??

    If anyone has any advice for me it would be greatly appreciated..

    p.s getting an MRI is essential to check the overall health of your spinal system, there may be underlying problems such as me now or it may just be a freak accident and it will heal well..but you need to know..money is money it comes and goes never be tight when it comes to your health..get many opinons
  • occurring and is a part of getting older. That does NOT mean that someone will also have stenosis, or facet problems as well.
    As far as how long herniations take to heal, usually the reference is around 2 years .
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.