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Can a herniated disc improve without treatment?

The majority of patients can improve herniated discs through medications and/or therapy. A surgical intervention may be necessary.

Dr. Gerald M. Silverman
Chiropractic Medicine Specialist

Two well-known but rarely discussed attributes of herniated discs are their transient nature and your body's ability to remedy them. It is entirely possible that a herniation of the nucleus pulposus (HNP) will appear one day and months later a follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will show no evidence it ever existed. A study of 48 confirmed herniated discs found on follow-up that 9 decreased in size by 25 percent, 8 decreased in size by 50 percent, and—here is the most astounding figure—31 decreased in size by 75 to 100 percent, and the largest herniations decreased the most. Because follow-up MRIs are seldom done in private practice, doctors usually don't get to see such dramatic results.

Your Miraculous Back: A Step-By-Step Guide to Relieving Neck & Back Pain

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Your Miraculous Back: A Step-By-Step Guide to Relieving Neck & Back Pain

Many of us complain about our 'bad back,' but this book argues that our backs are, without exception, amazing examples of bioengineering, capable of dramatic feats of strength, flexibility, and...

The symptoms of a herniated disc may improve without treatment even if the disc herniation does not decrease in size. Sometimes, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will document that a disc resorbs or gets smaller. However, this is not very common.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.