What Happens If A Herniated Disc Goes Untreated?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Spine Cancer

Because back pain is quite common (despite the fact that back pain is not normal), many patients assume that minor or mild back aches will eventually resolve on their own. This strategy really only works for very minor injuries like a mild muscle strain, and it can actually make a number of spinal conditions worse. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at what can happen if you do not proactively treat a herniated disc in your spine.

Untreated Herniated Discs

Disc herniations become more common as we get older due to the fact that our spinal discs gradually lose some height as a result of the natural aging process and degenerative wear and tear over the years. This disc height loss can make discs more prone to shifting or herniating should it experience a stress that it cannot adequately handle. If a disc ends up herniating, you’ll want to connect with your primary care physician or a spine specialist to go over your treatment options, because a number of issues can develop if you try to go about your business as normal, including:

  • Worsening Pain – While a herniated disc doesn’t always require surgery to fix, it does need proactive treatment. Without treatment, you’re going to keep putting pressure on the disc, leading to more pain and a more extreme herniation. If your herniated disc continues to put pressure on nearby spinal nerves, these nerves can become permanently damaged, causing even more pain.
  • Decreased Likelihood of Treatment Success – The longer you put off treatment, the less likely it is that treatment will yield the best results possible. While not as serious as a condition like cancer, a herniated disc is similar in that proactive treatment tends to yield better results when the problem is treated at an earlier instance. Don’t put off treatment for weeks or months because successful treatment may be harder to achieve by the time you take your injury seriously.
  • Bladder Issues – If your herniated disc continually irritates key spinal nerves, there’s a possibility that your untreated disc issue can actually lead to bladder problems. You may find that you have difficulty holding your bladder or fully releasing it when going to the bathroom. Don’t let a back problem lead to incontinence issues because you ignored early treatment.
  • Decreased Mobility And Independence – Because herniated discs don’t typically resolve without proactive treatment, most patients who try to push through their discomfort end up being physically limited as a result of their untreated disc issue. You won’t be as flexible or mobile as a result of your untreated herniated disc, and that can limit your independence and your quality of life. You shouldn’t let a treatable issue negatively affect your quality of life.
  • Partial Paralysis – While this is incredibly rare, untreated herniated discs can irritate and damage your spinal cord, potentially leading to muscle weakness, numbness and even partial paralysis in your extremities. Herniated discs typically respond very positively to some simple conservative treatments, so don’t put yourself at risk for major issues when a solution is readily available.

If you’re dealing with a disc issue or a similar back problem, proactively treat the issue by connecting with a specialist who can find the right treatment for your individual needs. Let Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute be that resource for you. Give their team a call today at (651) 430-3800.

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