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Thread: Intervertebral disc

  1. #1 Intervertebral disc 
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    Greetings,
    I have a herniated disc that makes a small bulge into the nerve in my lower back. I'm not asking for medical advice, but if you've got some, I'll listen. I've read that the bulge can be removed by discectomy, but that the herniation doesn't heal. What prevents the disc from healing? I'm not medically trained, so pardon my ignorance, but shouldn't the herniation close eventually and scar? Is the lack of healing due to the material the disc is made of? If so, what is that material/tissue? If it's not able to do close and scar over, couldn't someone make an adhesive to put in the tear or tape that can be placed over the tear to keep it closed? Sorry if this sounds inane, but this thing is driving me crazy and so it's leading me to all sorts of hair-brained ideas.

    Also, I've seen one description of discectomy that makes it sound like the operation just removes the bulge that's impacting the nerve and another description that makes it sound like a much larger section of the disc, such as disc material that is in the "normal" location of the disc, is removed. Does anyone know which of these is more accurate?

    John


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  3. #2  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    As a general rule, back operations do not give lasting benefit. I suggest you consult a medical specialist. Advise over the internet is not likely to be of much help.

    There was a Scientific American article about 10 years ago on back problems, written by a medical researcher in the field. He claimed that back operations generally could not be justified.

    Apart from seeing a specialist, which is the best idea, dealing with back problems is done by the following procedure.
    1. Take pain killers and get on with normal life. Do normal activity, but refrain from anything that specifically causes serious pain. Pain impulses are the body's way of telling you what NOT to do.
    2. After a time, the pain will diminish or disappear as healing occurs. When this has happened, then look to beginning a program of back strengthening exercises.
    3. Start these exercises gingerly. Light exercises at first so as not to aggravate your problem. As time goes by, the exercises can increase till they are fully effective in strengthening your back. After this time, back pain should recur much less frequently and with a lot less pain.

    However, first see the specialist. He/she can tell you which exercises to do.


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  4. #3  
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    skeptic,
    Thank you. I've been to a specialist. He wanted to fuse my the vertebrae around the disc. I said no thanks. I've read enough to know that's not likely to be much help. As for avoiding pain, everything causes pain. Just not enough to make me fall over or whatnot. I was pretty fit before this started and while my fitness isn't what it was 6 months ago, I'm still able to walk a good bit (with pain).

    I'm still curious though why the disc itself doesn't heal. Unless what I've read is incorrect, but I've look around a little bit. Nothing I found has led me to believe it will, just that the pain may subside to a point where it won't be a constant reminder of my state.

    John
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  5. #4  
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    A degree of healing can be expected. A lot depends on how old you are. Younger heal better. If you are an old bastard like me, it may be years to heal to the point where it stops being a serious problem.

    Not much I can offer, since miracles are not something I lay claim to. If the specialist wants to operate, and you do not want to, I would ask for a second opinion. I am sceptical of the benefits of such operations, but it is good to get the opinion of a genuine expert, if not several genuine experts.
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  6. #5 discs 
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    i'm in my mid-30s. not a spring chicken, but not necessarily old.

    i saw a pain management dr. today. i asked him what the injured part of the disc is made of and he replied it's made of collagen. i know that collagen doesn't get blood and doesn't get a dedicated supply of nutrients or what have you, so i wouldn't be able to directly to affect it. however, are there foods that can help restore collagen? is there another way to help add collagen?
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  7. #6  
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    Short answer : no.

    The best advise on this and other similar queries is to eat a good balanced diet. There are no special foods to help. If anyone suggests something, look it up on the quackwatch web site. www.quackwatch.org

    For example : glucosamine and chondroitin are often suggested for arthritis, and could well be suggested for your problem. It would probably be a waste of your hard earned money.
    http://www.quackwatch.org/01Quackery...ucosamine.html

    Collagen does heal, but it may take a long time. I know this is not comforting, but the best thing is to be prepared to take the time. As someone in his mid 30's, your rate of healing will be OK.

    I had a very bad back problem once, from trying to lift a heavy outboard motor on my own. Took me six months before it stopped hurting, and I was about your age.
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