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Herniated Discs and the Body’s Ability to Repair Them

Dr. Daniel Batlan

Medical director and founder Dr. Daniel Batlan guides Specialized Pain Management in serving the needs of patients throughout the Henderson and Las Vegas, NV, communities. Areas in which Daniel Batlan, MD, offers knowledgeable care include sciatica, intervertebral disc disease, and herniated (slipped) intervertebral discs.

Herniation is caused by a rupture of the disc’s outer layer and subsequent oozing out of the nucleus pulposus. The nerve sac gets compressed by the gel-like substance, and pain results. One common question among people who experience herniated discs is whether they are able to heal on their own, without medical intervention.

The body’s immune response does often kick in, with the herniated part of the disc recognized as “foreign material” and reduced in size, with inflammatory proteins eliminated. At the same time, the water contained within the herniated disc is absorbed over time, which results in a shrinking of the herniated section. This lessens the impact of the gel-like substance on spinal nerves in the vicinity. In addition, some studies suggest that extension exercises that reinforce natural disc mechanics can have an effect in shifting the herniated segment in an inward direction, away from nerves.
Unfortunately, these only address the impact on the nerve root and do not solve the basic issue of a disc that is herniated and weakened. Nonsurgical options, including medications, should be explored first, with surgery sometimes recommended when symptoms persist or reoccur.

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