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Spine and Back Health

Disc Herniation T12-L1 - Treatment?

06/02/2009

Question:

I`m an otherwise healthy, fairly physically active 48 yo female, 5`7, about 125lbs, w/MRI results showing the following: Large focal right central disc herniation T12-L1 level w/mass-effect upon the spinal cord; disc protrusion L5-S1 levels (which is causing Sciatica). I`ve been out of work for 6 weeks (+ it`s rare for me to miss more than 1 or 2 days a year). I`ve been to surgeons, a pain clinic, chiro, osteopath, physical therapy, tried acupuncture, have a `TENS` on order, + have tried a number of meds (muscle relaxants, pain killers, steriods). I feel that the sciatica is lessening, gradually, but am concerned as to how to treat the herniation, which I`ve been told is rare at the disc level I have it (my back aches if I stand for too long, + feels like a rib is poking to the left if I lay down or sit back against it). I want to get back to being active, + get back to work (programmer, so I need to be able to sit for many hours), + am seeking advice on how others have treated such a disc herniation, length of time to heal - + have you ever seen this injury heal on it`s own, with time? Thank you, for any assistance, it`s greatly appreciated.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, we try to answer general questions about health but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment. You appear to have some very, very specific questions about your condition, which can only be answered properly by a physician who is familiar with your history, physical exam, and test results.

In regards to your specific question about whether disc herniations at the T12-L1 level can heal, yes they can, but there’s no reliable way to predict whether yours will or not. Bear in mind that some herniated discs don’t cause symptoms, and this one may or may not need to be treated. If other treatments have failed, surgery can always be an option, but you would need to be evaluated by a qualified spine surgeon to make that decision.  

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University