Have you recently been diagnosed with a herniated disc? Interestingly, herniated discs are not exactly uncommon – even in individuals without back pain.
Studies have shown that individuals of all ages may develop disc herniations and degeneration. And quite often, these individuals don’t experience back pain.
Yet, sometimes disc herniation may be the main cause of back pain. The herniation may press on a nerve, which can cause radiating pain, numbness, and tingling down the buttocks, legs, and feet. You may also experience decreased strength in these extremities. In cases when lower back pain is associated with severe leg pain/decreased sensitivity, or loss of power in the leg muscles, you should consult with a doctor or physio.
The good news with disc herniations, aside from the fact that they can actually be present without causing problems, is that they usually also resolve and heal on their own with time and conservative treatment. This means gentle, progressive physical activity as well as exercises for the back.
Being diagnosed with a herniated disc doesn’t mean you will have a herniated disc forever. Research has actually demonstrated that two thirds of all disc herniations retract and resolve on their own with time.
It’s only in more rare cases that individuals may need surgery. Surgery is usually considered only as a last resort, due to the limited amount of research on the long-term benefits associated with it. Most back pain treatment approaches begin with physiotherapy intervention, not surgery.
And there’s more good news – research has shown that activities such as running and strength training can actually strengthen the discs of the human spine! As the saying goes: "you can't go wrong, getting strong".
In short, most individuals with a herniated disc make a full recovery and can get back to doing what they love! It may just take some time, patience, and effort via exercise to get there. For more on treatment for herniated discs see this blog.