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How Long Can Numbness Due to a Herniated Disc Last?


10.10 - How-Long-Does-It-Take-for-Numbness-from-a-Herniated-Disc-to-Go-Away

If you are living with a herniated spinal disc, it is safe to assume you want any resulting discomfort to go away as soon as possible. This is especially true if you have issues with radiating nerve pain and/or numbness that extends to the lower part of your spine and down to your legs, hips, and feet. This article explains what you need to know about numbness related to a herniated disc and when to expect it to go away.

Nerve Healing Could Take a Long Time

Spinal discs that are herniated usually heal within about a month. However, it may take a while for numbness to go away, since there are many factors that determine the causes of radiating disc pain. These include:

• Where the disc is located
• Which nerve is compressed
• How long the nerve has been irritated
• Whether you have underlying health issues such as diabetes that could affect nerve healing

The Sciatic Nerve Is a Common Source of Numbness

If numbness is affecting the lower body area, it is likely the
sciatic nerve that is affected. If this is the case, it may take a while longer for complete healing to occur. This is likely to be the case if the nerve was irritated for a long time.

Managing Numbness Related to a Herniated Disc

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize the discomfort of numbness, especially if it occurs most when you sit or sleep. One step to take is to improve your posture so you are not placing too much extra stress on the affected area. It can also be helpful to:

• Sleep on a supportive mattress
• Avoid slouching or leaning forward excessively
• Make an effort to take breaks to get up if sitting for longer periods
• Use a lumbar support cushion when you drive or sit for work

Getting an Accurate Diagnosis

If you have not done so already, find out for sure if your numbness is from a
herniated disc. There are other reasons the sciatic nerve may be irritated enough to cause numbness. This applies to other nerves as well. 

A doctor or spine specialist can perform specialized tests, such as nerve conduction studies, to find out for sure which nerve is affected. Additionally, image tests can determine which spinal disc is affected. The results allow more precise treatments to be recommended. These may include:

• Physical therapy
• Hot and cold applications to promote nerve healing and reduce inflammation
• Medication to manage numbness that may include injections directly into the affected area

If initial treatments are not successful, you may be advised to consider surgery if your numbness is stemming from a herniated spinal disc. The most common procedure performed today for disc-related pain is a discectomy or microdiscectomy—the minimally invasive variation of the same procedure. After spinal disc surgery, you should notice a steady and gradual reduction in numbness and any related sensations like tingling and general weakness.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy may be discussed and potentially recommended. Although this is generally a very successful procedure, having a large hole in the outer ring of the disc more than doubles the risk of needing another operation. A new treatment, Barricaid, is a bone-anchored device that closes this hole, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment, ask your doctor or contact us at 844-288-7474.

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