I'm 38 years old & I can recall having lower back pain for at least 12 years now. Not sure what I did but about 3 years ago I really tweaked my back & it was the first time that I had imaging done which showed a bad L5-S1 herniation. Went to a neuro & they went with conservative treatment (PT, pain mgmt, epidurals) & after 3 months the sciatica & lower back pain started to subside & in 6 months I was relatively back to normal.
Recently I was getting a physical @ my GP & mentioned how I still occasionally have flare ups & he wanted to do imaging since last set was 3 yrs ago. GP called me w/ latest results that showed a bad L5-S1 herniation & he wants me to go back to my neuro. For the most part I only have 3-5 flare ups a year & otherwise mostly pain free. When I do have a flare up I'll have some pretty nasty acute pain for 1-2 weeks but then it tapers off & in 2-3 weeks I'm typically back to normal. By no means do I consider myself a surgical candidate & probably wouldn't be going back to my neuro except my GP is requesting I do.
But my questions... Am I right to assume that once you have a herniation that it's common that it really never goes away?? I'm no Dr. but in my mind my disc is always herniated & retracts/shrinks minimal amounts which is enough to release off the nerve & why I'm pain free most of the time, but then when it's aggravated I get a flare up. Also are there any issues with having a herniated disc if it's not causing issues, i.e. you're not doing more damage by simply living with it herniated if it's not causing problems??