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What happens if a herniated disc goes untreated?

I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. It doesn't hurt. What happens if a herniated disc goes untreated?

5 Answers

It could worsen over time and cause symptoms like pain or weakness.
An untreated herniated disc, over time, may improve clinically (e.g. pain). The herniated portion may, in a small number of people, get smaller and "resorb" (not absorb). Other times, the herniation may remain, even if the symptoms improve. The flip side is that any symptoms may persist and become more chronic. If there is structural change over time, such as disc height loss, there can be additional sources of pain from the disc structure, the facet joints, and/ or involvement of the exiting nerve paths called the "foramine."
Good Morning. Asymptomatic herniated discs are a relatively common finding and as such DO NOT require surgical intervention. Depending on a number of factors such as age, physical demands of your job, body weight and your typical activities of daily living conservative (non-surgical) treatment is generally recommended. The natural history of a disc herniation is disc degeneration which occurs over a period on months to years. We generally recommend core muscle strengthening, maintaining ideal body weight, and avoiding activities that result in heavy use of the spine (repetitive bending, stooping, twisting and heavy lifting).

P. Gunnar Brolinson, DO
Most of the time it will be fine. The body will adapt. If no pain and no weakness I wouldn't do anything, but it's a good idea to get a good PT to learn strengthening exercises to prevent any progression.
Nothing, as long as there is no re-injury.