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L5-S1 disk bulge healing

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Lower Back Pain
An X-ray and MRI showed a left lateral bulge in my L5-S1 disk indenting the left budding nerve root. I was in traction for the first 3 days with some medication and a cortisone shot. Today is day 5 and I've had significant reduction in pain with this treatment. I have slight pain when i lay down and lift my left leg straight up and some soreness throughout the day.

I have been told to rest my back as much as possible for the next few days. I'm curious about the healing process:

1. How long should I expect the soreness to last?
2. How long does it usually take the bulge to subside and the disk to heal?



  • I hope the pain goes away and you get back to what you were doing. [Edited] Take care. 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
  • so you say traction has helped you with your disc problems? ive been a little sketchy with seeing a chiro for my disc problem ive just herd so much bad stuff about them.
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  • My doc told me it takes about 6 months for a disc to repair itself, ymmv as I'm sure it depends on the amount of herniation, how much strain is put on it and any PT you may be doing.
  • I was hoping my disc would heal itself, it's been 10 months so far for me. I'll wait until Jan. and see what the second opinion Ortho says if I need surgery or keep hoping it will heal itself. Mine is a small far right herniation. I hope yours heals sooner. I'm 48 so maybe age has something to do with it healing. Hope you do well with your healing. 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've been told bulging discs will naturally slip back in to place in 6 months if the discs are going to go back and they almost always do. Usually, you'll get a cortison injection to get you through that pain period until the disc returns to its normal position. I would think that after ten months, your doctor would want to try something else to get the disc back in place, even beyond the traction. Have you had a new MRI to confirm that the disc is still bulging?
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  • I think mine has torn more than once, I've gone through cycles for the past four years with the worst pain starting up in January or February. I'm not sure what causes it, I don't even shovel snow! (I have teenagers for that! ;) )

    I'll be going in as soon as I can get an appointment, the doc wanted me to give it through the end of the year and the pain seems to be worsening on a weekly basis right now...
  • Hi jay

    Your back problems sound very similar in nature to my own. My bulging disks L3,4 & L4,5 (left side) and degenerative disease has caused pain, numbness and discomfort to come and go since about 2002 but with time the pain and leg numbness had become more persistent and severe. Two days ago I had laser surgery done in Florida which included PLD for the disks and DTA from L5 to S1. Its too early to give this surgery a definitive thumbs up of course but the day of my operation, and since, I've had no pain or numbness at all in the formerly affected areas. There is post op discomfort at the site of the incisions but its minor. If early indications persist, this operation will be a winner. So far so good :D .
  • Bulging disks are not a fun thing and I hope your pain goes down!!! My mom had that and hers went down eventually. Traction is wonderful for those. I was in a car wreck a few years back and traction plus physical therapy eliminated the disk damage I had... they went down completely. That was in the cervical spine, though. I am sorry it is L5. Pain in L5 is just about the worst I have ever had. (I live large and experience many accidents as a result hehe). I hope that things are getting better for you!!! If you purchase a traction machine, it can be the best decision you'll ever make. My family owns one and it is used by all of us. I again hope you get better soon!
  • I am in the same boat with you, mild bulging disc in the lower back....
    Don't skip out on the physical therapy! It is important that you are able to empower yourself to take part in the healing. That and cortisone injections to help with the pain are the keys to getting better.
  • Have any of you tried Spinal Decompression Therapy?
    I injured myself and had an L5-S1 bulge at 5 to 6mm per MRI. I was in very bad pain for about a month. Ep injections...negative, PT...negative, Pain meds.... ok but who wants to pop pills forever???
    After trying a chiro and buying inversion table and special shoes I finally broke down and did decompression therapy. Worked like a charm!
    I have absolutely no pain, no sciatica, no nothing.
    Though expensive and insurance wont cover it was worth it for me. I went to a place called South County Spinal Care in Irvine, CA. Very nice people...
    They used a machine called Vax-D.
    As for special shoes... I got a pair of Z-Coils. If your still having pain and would like some relief these shoes are great!
    No, I no longer use the shoes but they do relieve pain if your wanting to remain active post injury.
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