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Advice on healing a herniated disc naturally?

I've had SEVERE sciatica and lower back pain on the left side for about 3 months now. The first month I forced myself to keep working despite the unbearable pain (which wasn't a good idea) but one morning it was so bad that I just couldn't get out of bed and sure enough I lost my job. It's been 2 months since then and I've been bed ridden for most of the time because of the pain. I finally got an MRI recently after weeks of argueing with the insurance company and trying to find a doctor who can set me up with one and it turns out I have a fairly big disc herniation at L4/L5 that is compressing the sciatic nerve. The orthopedist I saw recommended surgery or an epidural right off the bat which just didn't seem like the correct approach just yet so I spoke to another orthopedist in the same building and he said I can try physical therapy first so that's where i'm at now. Over these past 2 months I've tried stretching (aggravates the pain alot), walking, and have been taking Percocet ( if I didn't take it I'd be in pain 24/7 no matter what position I'm in). I've also been to the hospital 5 times so far.

Anyways, walking seems to help afterwords so I will start forcing myself to get up everyday and walk a mile. I also have an inversion table I will start using twice a day along with a foam roller I will use twice a day as well. What else can I do to heal this herniated disc naturally? I know bedrest for this long is counterproductive so I'll start doing what I said above, but as far as diet, other exercises, and natural remedies what is best to treat this injury? I definitely don't want to go through surgery or get injected with all these medications so what can I do to have the best chances of healing on my own and how long do you think it will take? Thanks


  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    It is my understanding from what the Drs told me in 80-85% of cases the disc herniation is reabsorbed in the first couple of months things would improve. If you don't see any improvement then either the conservative route of epidurals and pt can be tried but if they don't work then probably you need surgery. In my own case I had an extruded fragment st L3-4 that was missed for 5 months until a neurosurgeon picked it up on my MRI. Horrible unexplained pain that went away after surgery. Now of course 2 1/2 yrs later I have a new herniation at the same level. I am about 2 months out and it is not getting better on its own so most likely I need the microdiscetomy! Not looking forward to surgery but the pain is horrible and I can't walk or sit. My life is not s life at this point!
    Work with your Drs to see what they think is best. If your body is going to heal you should see some slow improvement.
  • If I compare myself now to the way I was 2 months ago I definitely see some improvement. Last week I ran out of painkillers and had to go 2 days without. I felt decent, not by any means pain free but compared to the rolling on the floor pain I've been dealing with I felt OK. Until I tried driving! Then I had major flare up and ended up in the hospital again that night. So sitting and standing in one place are things that I need to avoid right now.
    Also, I need to find a way to stay on my back while sleeping as I always seem to hurt myself more in the middle of the night by changing positions.. But like I said, 2-3 months ago I wasn't able to stand/sit still for more then 10 seconds. People at work looked at me like I was high because I'd pace around non-stop all day and was shakey because of the intense pain. I still can't sit down because it just hurts too bad after a few seconds but I can walk alot better now and can atleast control the pacing if need be. Without a doubt I do see a little improvement but I need to stop doing things that aggravate and possibly even reinjure the condition.
    Starting tomorrow I'm going to see how long I can go without taking the Percocet. My goal is to last all week with just some Naproxen and a muscle relaxer so we'll see how that goes!
  • First of all, sorry for your misery. Really feel for you and all the back pain sufferer. one of my friend has exactly your symptoms and diagnose.What he did is to sit out the pain.I know it is terribly hard but the pain will reduce eventually. Will take some time. Something you can look into is back belt.It will help you a lot.Please dont do exercises as it will aggravate the symptoms. You need to get rid the pain first. Ice pack and hot pack should be your best friend for a while.Painkiller can be taken if the pain is really really unbearable.Hope you get well soon.Please dont consider surgery yet a this stage(This my personal advice.It is totally up to you regarding surgery)
  • Thanks for your response. I've tried a couple of back braces but unfortunately they don't seem to do me any good. I've also tried a knee brace because the sciatica makes my knee feel out of place.. Plus after being in bed for so long I'm starting to get weak. Also, the combination of pain and being restricted to a room all this time is starting to play head games with me and depression has set in.
    This forum definitely helps with the mental side of things as well. It's good to have people to talk to who understand and I have gone through something similar
  • Im sorry for your pain. My friend suggested the brace with clay inside.It will act as heat pad as it use your body heat to convert to nice warm feeling.You can look into this. Depression sure will creep in because of the pain.Myself also suffer from l5s1 l4/l5/l3/l2 prolapsed disk with nerve compression.Please get support from loved ones.You need talk about the pain with someone.Please stay strong.
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 1,817
    I wouldn't rule out epidurals sometimes if you break the ongoing nerve inflammation chain the body can begin to heal.properly. It has risks , but of a low probability. The issue with discs is the lack of blood flow and the endplate degeneration that works against healing.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
  • Sciaticaman1995SSciaticaman1995 Posts: 24
    edited 01/21/2016 - 3:15 AM
    At this point I'm seriously considering surgery. However, I don't know what kind of surgery I would be a candidate for as I have borderline high blood pressure at times due to mild Mitral Valve Prolapse (basically a leaking heat Valve). I don't even know if that would matter or not so I have to discuss this with me ortho.
  • How are you doing, Sciaticaman? It has been a while since your post, so I hope you are feeling much better already...

    Have you tried hydrotherapy? I was doing physiotherapy but I was actually getting worse and eventually couldn't do the exercises anymore. Then about one month ago, I tried hydrotherapy and in the pool, I was able to do lots of exercises I couldn't have done otherwise, and I feel I am getting a lot stronger, even if I am still taking anti-inflammatories because I am afraid of nerve damage from having sciatica for so long.

    The first few sessions, I basically saw no difference and I was thinking nothing could help me, but then for some reason I started seeing results. I am lucky to have a pool specialized for rehabilitation in my city, with a chair device to lower people in and stairs and railings to step in, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to get in and out of the pool. ;)

    I am trying every anti-inflammatory with any anecdotal evidence I can find. So far taking camu camu fruit powder (vitamin C might help healing discs?), tumeric pills, fish oil, ginger, green tea, all this in addition to anti-inflammatory medication, which I hope is not dangerous, but my MD cannot comment on these alternative treatments, so I have taken the risk to experiment on myself. I cannot recommend this to anyone as I am not yet convinced of the results.

    Wishing you an incredible recovery,
  • I'll randomly listed what I've heard here and there:

    Aerobic exercise (getting your heart rate up for 20 mins/day) gets fresh blood to the disc
    Bouncing on a exercise ball (have not tried)
    Traction (by a physical therapist, chiropractor, or osteopath, sometimes machine) gets fresh blood to disc
    Ant inflammatories 
    Steroids (taper packs)
    Homeopathic medicine 
    Supplements (glucosamine, ch..., msm or something like that)
    Vitamins (d,b,fish oil) for nerve pain
    Nerve pain medications
    Chiropractic adjustments - controversial (some say they are dangerous, some say they helped them)
    Chiropractic other - I've heard how some good ones can "unpinch" nerve, not sure if applicable to disc and how it works
    Osteopathic manipulation - imo same as above
    Physical therapy - traction, stretching, exercises strengthening back muscles
    Calming the muscle spasm - hot showers, acupuncture, massage
    Stem cell injection - controversial
    Luck or miracle

    Good luck!
  • I feel your pain. Been in the same boat as you except for years.  Research kettle bell swings for herniated disc. This changed my life. Pain is gone for me back is stronger than ever now. Gives you nice big glutes too which is a plus for the ladies.  But whatever you do, do not, do not lay around for weeks at a time this will make it worse and worse. I found this out the hard way
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    Reminder..... An activity that has been successful for one can be devastating and harmful to another!
    Please consult with your doctor before doing any new activity!
    And please, always follow your doctor's instructions re a time for activity and a time for rest!
    Your doctor knows you as an individual with your issues and what's best for your overall well being!
    Thank you...

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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