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How long does it take for a herniated disc to reabsorb?

I am a 29 year old female and I have a herniated disc. How long does it take for a herniated disc to reabsorb?

15 Answers

That depends on the type of herniation you have. Extrusions and sequestrations tend to resorb more than broad-based, subligamentous, protrusion type herniations. With this latter type, they may not resorb at all. But that doesnt matter provided that your symptoms improve. While the herniation may remain, the pain and inflammation associated with the insult that is the cause of symptoms does resolve and improve.
Some do, some do not ever.
Many factors go into this. Are you getting proper chiropractic treatment along with spinal decompression? Are you rotating your lower back or putting stress into your lower back? Have you had previous surgery or injuries? So, this is a case by case basis of each patient because all patients are different. If it is a minor herniated disc then possibly 12 weeks but is hard to say.
A long time, depending on many factors.
There is evidence that conservative chiropractic care can help with the re-absorption of a herniated disc. In my experience this tends to be with more minor levels or herniation, but as a general rule the more severe the herniation the longer the recovery time. The process can take months to years depending on severity of disc, limiting stressors/aggravations on disc, and overall health and wellness of patient.
The absorbing of a herniated disk becomes a degenerative process that continues the rest of your life. The disk never goes back to normal. Treatment is to make the joint work as best it can as it degenerates.
Well, you see this is sort of a loaded question. A herniated disc does not necessarily just go back to it's proper place and everything is fine within a specific time. The reason that it happened in the first place must first be addressed. In many instances, we have found that it is a spinal misalignment or subluxation either at the site or somewhere in the spine that is causing an unnecessary force on that area of the spine and with the right amount of extra force or pressure, pow! The disc herniates or bulges or protrudes away from its normal juxtaposition. Therefore, the disc will not just heal up on its own in many instances, unless the cause of the undue pressure is relieved or corrected first.
Good question, unfortunately, in my experience most do not reabsorb. That being said, it doesn't mean you will have pain indefinitely either. With conservative care (chiropractic, acupuncture, core strengthening) and being conscious about what activities cause an exacerbation of pain, most people can live without pain from a disc herniation. My advice to you is to find a chiropractor who has experience and is comfortable treating disc herniations. I have made a career out of treating these, but not all chiros know how to manage the condition and reduce the pain.

Dr. Lonna Denny, D.C.
That depends on how herniated the disc is, what type of chiropractor you’re seeing, comorbidities, etc., BUT I would say definitely have a competent chiropractor take a look at you and see what’s going on and if they can help!
Hope that helps!

Dr. Josh Barton
It depends on the severity of the herniation and your physical shape. Also, the type of daily activity performed. Sometimes it only takes a few weeks for retraction of the nucleus and then it could take months. Good nutrition and light exercise combined with regular chiropractic treatment can speed up recovery.

Understand, a disc is made of two parts, the annulus, which is cartilage, contains the nucleus, which is the cushion or soft part. Once this retracts, the tear in the annulus must have time to scar over to once again contain the nucleus.

Yours in health,

Doc J
You would need an MRI to tell for sure. It depends on how extreme the herniation is. Could be anywhere from 6 mo to 2 years. Surgery is the very last resort option here. That tissue takes a long time to heal. I would consult with a chiropractor and count on getting an MRI to know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Best of luck!


Dr. Brandon Buttry
Discs can take months to reabsorb but the pain from herniated discs can be relieved much sooner by reducing the inflammation at the disc. Therapies like traction, decompression, cold laser, and even chiropractic care can help the reabsorption rate of the disc.

Vishal K. Verma DC CCSP

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I’d be thinking 6 months, minimum. The reason is it takes 6-15 months to fully heal ligaments. They have a poor blood supply so they take long to heal. Be careful as you’ll start to feel better with treatment way before 6 months but the injury won’t be fully healed and is susceptible to re-injury. So if you start feeling great with treatment, don’t jump right back into heavy exercise or lifting if that’s what you were doing before.
It is also known that there is a genetic factor that contributes to the development of disc degeneration and herniated disc. In most cases, a herniated disc in the lower back will heal within six months, as the size of herniation shrinks with time via resorption.
Most of the time this takes 4-6 weeks, sometimes longer. In some cases the disc becomes hardened in its herniated state and requires surgery to fix. I highly recommend getting regular Chiropractic visits to get the disc back to its proper placement and prevent any future arthritis or joint dysfunction.