Do slipped discs heal themselves?

Slipped discs are no fun. You experience that dull aching pain running across your back, and at times the shooting pang traveling down your leg. It’s as if an army of ants chose to nom on you from the inside out.

But let’s face it; not everyone wants to deal with healthcare professionals or undergo treatment right away. So here comes the million-dollar question: do slipped discs heal themselves?

Spoiler alert, there isn’t a single answer for every case. But before we dive deeper into that rabbit hole, let’s get one thing straight- what in the world is a slipped disc anyway?

A Quick Science Lesson

Intervertebral Discs are these nifty looking post-it note-like structures located between each vertebrae in our spine. They serve as cushions or shock absorbers for our backbone, allowing us some flexibility and superhuman feats like bending over to touch your toes (if you can).

A healthy disc has two parts: The outer ring called the Annulus Fibrosus and an Inner soft jelly substance aptly named Nucleus Pulposus (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Two Parts of Intervertebral Disks

However, when things go wrong within these intervertebral disks due to injury or damage caused by wear and tear, they may start bulging outwards from their cozy space causing minute tears on the outer shell also known as herniation(See Table 1 below).

Type of Herniated Disk Description
Bulge Disk sticking outside normal boundary
Rupture Tear through annulus fibrosus
Protrusion One side of disk unfolds like a pocket
Extrusion Nucleus Pulposus breaks annulus
Sequestration Detached fragment from disc nucleus

Table 1- Types of Herniated Discs

This herniation can put pressure on surrounding nerves or the spinal cord causing all sorts of pain and discomfort.

Curing Slipped Disks like it’s a 4-Course Meal

When we visit healthcare professionals with symptoms attributed to slipped disks, they first observe the patient and evaluate their medical history. They may order X-rays, MRI scan or other tests if required (see Table 2 for some diagnostic tests).

Type of Diagnostic Test Description
Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) Radiology scanning technique producing detailed images
Computerized Axial Tomography(CAT/CT) Scan Non-invasive scan collecting cross-sectional mapping of soft tissues and bones
X-ray Radiographic imaging used to visualize bone structures
Myelogram Dye injected into spinal canal then x-ray performed

Table 2 -Some common Diagnostics Tests

Depending on the severity, they would suggest one (or more) treatment plan. Such plans range from taking medications that help ease inflammation such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy (PT), injections, surgical procedures such as diskectomy/laminectomy depending upon extent etc.

But back to the original question:Does slipping disks heal by themselves? The answer is ……


Imagine you dropped your ice cream after waiting in line for hours during peak summer season. You don’t want to face reality; somehow clinging onto a fear-wrought concept within you that maybe this could magically reattach itself back together!

Slipped Disk Healing process is akin to above scenerio – It depends on external factors beyond human control mixed in with an internal serendipity that it gets better all by itself.

Let’s say you have a mild slipped disc, and imaging confirms our suspicions without any additional nerve-related symptoms(notice this whole sentence shouldn’t need ‘‘ but what the heck). In that case, medical professionals would suggest self-care measures like ice fomentation and avoiding activities which exacerbate prominent symptoms. Application of heat therapy can also be beneficial depending on the treatment plan devised by your healthcare professional.

Several Factors on Slip Disc Healing

There are various schools of thought where people believe time heals almost everything! The human body is capable of repairing bruises in addition to bloody wounds; why not slips within these cushioning structures between vertebrae? But wait for it…it does come with caveats.

Let’s explore several factors required for healing:

1. Size Matters!

If the herniation is tiny or small enough, the nucleus pulposus won’t put much pressure on surrounding nerves or cause significant inflammation resulting in relatively lower pain intensity level and recovery bed rest!

Larger ones pinch nerves more than once making it worse due to continued friction/irritation among other things.

2.Location, Location!,Location!!

The affected anatomical structure plays a vital role when considering whether a particular adjustment will heal all by itself well enough.

A posterolateral position (farther from midline) may promote natural receding cycles rather than anterior-discs (nearer to midline).

Outwardly protruding one like Protrusion types isn’t always life-threatening as they respond very well conservative management compared to posterior paracentral protrusions.

3.Type Of Disk Herniation

Not all slipped disks are made equal either; there are different processes leading up to Slipped Disks, leading us back into what approach works best suiting each type such as :

  • Bulging disk
  • Ruptured disk
  • Sequestered Disk


Every person’s body differs, and the healing process can significantly vary based on genetics, age, overall health etc.

So let’s take a look at some of these factors to create an accurate prognosis.

Can Anyone Predict This Healing?

The answer is Yes! or rather No! That may be confusing – So let’s explain it like we are educating two-year-olds!

Doctors cannot predict with hundred percent accuracy the extent that recovery could occur due to all slip disks presenting unique complex entities involving multifactorial variables such as size/position/type/personal differences bless their hearts.

Therefore medical advice is never certain within every angle; hence they give a probable list of solutions customized for each individual scenario which works best for each specific patient!

But Here Is The Catch..

Most importantly, if your symptoms worsen or persist beyond four-six weeks despite following self-care measures or you develop nerve-related pain tingling numbness loss of strength especially in lower limb areas then STOP DELAYING : contact healthcare professionals for immediate attention!!(notice no ‘‘s)

Early treatment not only deals with core issues causing slippage initiates faster rehabilitation but also lessens potential hazards associated with long-term untreated conditions making sure quality-of-life isn’t compromised unnecessarily!.

In conclusion,it depends,however mild slipped discs compressed without further nerve irritation responses relatively well continued care-free management conservatively over time.However,similar numbers progressively- worsening after Phase one symptom relief requiring intervention complemented by PT/surgery.Correlating why same structures’ post surgical efficacy(Disketcomy)rates differed so greatly between individuals.Despite caveats don’t ignore nagging ailments which exceed average 7-day windows ask Medical Professionals who know what they’re doing – Repeat Slippage doesn’t sound appealing either!(notice no ‘‘s)