Once a spinal disc has slipped it seems like it is in a biomechanically awkward situation and can’t recover any more than a broken window can reassemble itself.
And yet several studies have shown after following dozen of patients for 8 years that a herniated disc can spontaneously resolve itself.
A whooping 66% of patients who received conservative treatment (anything but surgery) had a high overall incidence of disk resorption. This adds to the already large pile of evidence that back pain’s bark is usually much worse than its bite, and MRI and X-rays are almost useless for most low back pain problems.
Does this data show that conservative therapy is the key to resorption?
Unfortunately now, conservative therapy is vague to the point of being meaningless here. All it does mean is that these patients were treated with anything but surgery . We already suspect that resorption occurs whether people receive any treatment or not, and we know that there is no clearly effective therapy for back pain. The only thing that these papers show is that many herniation’s resolve without surgery, not that therapy fixes them.
The key home message to take from this is that -majority of the time – physiotherapy or a conservative approach using hands on work and exercise rehabilitation is safer than invasive and long standing surgical options.
Reference to the paper: (Kjaer 2016)