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What Is the Typical Duration of a Herniated Disc Flare-Up?


3.31 - How Long Do Herniated Disc Flare-Ups Last

A herniated disc (also commonly known as a "slipped disc" or “ruptured disc”) occurs when the gel-like material inside a spinal disc leaks out and puts pressure on surrounding nerves. This can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the back, neck, or limbs. It is not uncommon for people with herniated discs to experience flare-ups of their symptoms. These temporary pain spikes can vary widely in duration depending on several factors, including the severity of the herniation, the individual's overall health, and the treatment plan being followed. This article discusses how long herniated disc flare-ups usually last. 

What Is the Typical Time Frame for a Flare-Up?

In general, a flare-up can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. However, it is important to note that every individual is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Some people may experience only mild symptoms that go away on their own, while others may require more intensive treatment to manage their symptoms.

How Severe Is the Herniation?

One of the most important factors that can affect the duration of a flare-up is the severity of the herniation. A mild herniation may cause only minor symptoms that can be managed with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications. In this case, the flare-up may only last a few days before symptoms begin to subside.

On the other hand, a more severe herniation may cause more intense and long-lasting symptoms. In these cases, more extensive treatment may be necessary to address the symptoms and speed up the healing process. This can include physical therapy, chiropractic care, or even surgery in some cases.

What Is the Patient’s Health Status?

Another factor that can impact how long a flare-up lasts is the patient’s overall health. People who are in good physical shape and take care of their bodies may be able to recover from herniated discs quicker than those who are in poor health. This is because a healthy body is better equipped to heal itself and may be less susceptible to complications.

What Type of Treatment Is Being Used?

The treatment plan being followed can also play a role in the duration of a herniated disc flare-up. Those who seek treatment early and follow comprehensive treatment plans may be able to manage their symptoms more effectively and recover quicker than those who delay treatment or only treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medications.

Some of the most common treatments for a herniated disc include:

  • Rest – Resting the affected area can reduce inflammation and allow the body to heal. It is important to avoid strenuous activities that can worsen symptoms.
  • Ice and heat therapy – Applying an ice pack or heating pad to the affected area can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy – A physical therapist can teach you exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the herniated disc, which can relieve pressure on the affected nerve.
  • Chiropractic care – A chiropractor can use spinal manipulation techniques to reduce pain and increase range of motion.
  • Injections – In some cases, injections of corticosteroids or other medications can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Surgery – If other treatments have not been effective for a herniated disc, surgery may be necessary to remove the disc and relieve pressure on the affected nerve.

If you have a herniated disc that is not responding to conservative treatment, a discectomy or less invasive microdiscectomy 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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