San Francisco Chiropractor and Herniated Disc Doctor Comments:
It only makes sense that herniated discs would be able to heal...after all, the disc material is living tissue. But the thing is...the conditions need to be right (some discs are beyond repair)...and so does the treatment.
Most cervical or lumbar disc herniations have been present long before they are detected. During this time a lot of damage can be done to the spinal disc and surrounding structures. The spinal discs stay healthy when the bones they attach to are able to move through their normal ranges of motion.
When the bones lose their normal position...say from spills and falls when we are a child...or from sports, or just poor posture over time...the spinal disc are unable to exchange nutrients with the blood stream. So, they weaken and breakdown...setting the stage for a cervical or lumbar disc herniation.
All of this happens gradually. Of course a disc can rupture from a trauma, such as an auto accident or falling off a horse...but this is less common. What actually happens, is the center of the disc...the " nucleus pulposus", pushes through the outer containment walls of the spinal disc...the " annulus fibrosis"...and puts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves.
This can cause sciatica, arm/hand pain, numbness/tingling in the arms or legs, weakness of grip or foot drop, and of course pain the the neck, or pain in the low back. The symptoms can often times be crippling.