What Happens if a Herniated Disc Goes Untreated?

Oct 15, 2020

What Happens if a Herniated Disc Goes UntreatedA diagnosis of herniated or bulging discs can be scary, especially when accompanied by the debilitating pain they often come with. You may wonder if you will ever feel normal again, or if you will need back surgery to fully recover. The good news is a treatment plan developed with a Conyers chiropractor is usually the best solution to a herniated disc, but this relies on seeking that treatment in the first place. The prognosis can be positive if you quickly take action, but not addressing this injury can cause problems down the line.

Will It Heal On Its Own?

While many people will tell you their herniated disc disappeared on its own, this is not quite true. Some people may experience their pain subsiding over time, maybe causing flare-ups or becoming asymptomatic, leading them to conclude the disc has been moved back into place. What is more likely is that the water portion of the disc’s jelly-like substance is naturally absorbed into the body, reducing the area that juts out and impacts the nerve. This can also happen when the immune system recognizes the nerve irritant as a foreign object and forces it to reduce in size.

While this can happen, it is rare, and it does not address the root cause of the issue. The movement that caused the disc to bulge still occurred and has not been realigned, and some parts of the disc may remain, making you vulnerable to reinjuring the same site in the future.

What Happens Without Treatment?

For some people, a few months’ time will reduce the pain caused by a herniated disc so that it is rarely a problem. But even if this is the case, there are still months before that where you may suffer from excruciating pain, be stuck in bed unable to participate in your normal daily activities, and you may never get back to a full level of functioning.

Not only does seeing a chiropractor help you avoid some of those circumstances, but it may prevent you from experiencing even worse problems down the line. When not properly treated, a herniated disc can lead to permanent nerve damage. This happens when the disc cuts off all impulses to the nerve and feeling is lost in the affected area, typically the lower back, legs, or feet. In some rare cases, feeling may be lost in the genitals or buttocks as well, or bladder and bowel control can be compromised. Rarely, you may experience partial paralysis as a result of this nerve damage.

Avoiding or delaying treatment can also make you more likely to need surgery to address the herniation. In these cases, the substance of the disc must be removed altogether to stop it from interfering with the nerve, and this can lead to other kinds of back pain down the line. The removed disc may or may not be replaced with an artificial version. Most cases can be treated without surgery becoming necessary, but your chances of a non-invasive recovery improve the earlier you see a chiropractor.

How to Treat Herniated Discs

The best treatment for a herniated disc will depend heavily on how severe your pain is and how far the disc has moved from its original position. Some severe or recurring cases may move straight to surgery, but most chiropractors will explore other options first.

Exercise programs that focus on stretching the back and surrounding muscles are one of the best ways to relieve pain from a bulging disc. You may need to rest for a few days to let the initial inflammation go down, and then you can work with a physical therapist to develop an exercise program that is right for you. These exercises will focus on strengthening the neck, back, and abdominal muscles without irritating the affected nerve. The movements may be challenging, but should not cause excruciating pain. Any discomfort can be managed with a short round of pain medication until you are able to move more easily.

If you may be suffering from a bulging disc, it is important to visit a Conyers chiropractor as soon as you can. At AICA Conyers, our team provides individualized care that focuses on overall wellness and natural healing. If you have a more severe case, we also have in house orthopedic surgeons who can recommend the best courses of action as they become necessary. Call AICA Conyers today to schedule your first consultation and relieve your back pain!


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