Will a Herniated Disc Heal on Its Own? - Brace Direct

Will a Herniated Disc Heal on Its Own?

If you ever find yourself dealing with the pain from a herniated disc, you know it’s no joke. A herniated disc is when one of the rubbery discs that separate the vertebrae in your spine ruptures and bulges outwards. 

You’re probably wondering, will a herniated disc heal on its own? The answer to that question depends on a few different factors. This article will explore these factors and whether or not a herniated disc requires medical treatment.

Will a Herniated Disc Heal on Its Own?

woman with neck and back pain

As mentioned above, a herniated disc is a medical condition in which the soft, gel-like discs in the spine bulge outwards. This bulging can irritate or compress close-by nerves, causing pain or numbness in the affected area.

Herniated discs are a common condition. In fact, according to medical reviewer Joseph Morreale, nearly 80% of people will encounter a herniated disc at some point. Even super fit and healthy individuals can find themselves with a herniated disc someday.

In most cases, a herniated disc will heal on its own when treated with care. The disc protruding outwards will eventually return to its proper position in time. However, this healing can only occur if you care for yourself and allow your body to heal and rest.

Types of Herniated Discs

A herniated disc can occur anywhere along the spine but is commonly found in the lower back and neck. The symptoms you experience and the area of pain are the determining factors leading you to the problem area. 

Herniated Disc in the Neck

If you have pain in your upper back and shoulder area, you likely have a herniated disc in your neck. A recent neck injury or sprain could result in this ailment and gradual wear and tear on your neck as you age.

Shooting pains down the arm, weakness, and a tingling or burning sensation in the arm or hand are some symptoms of a herniated disc. Some people may also experience headaches or difficulty with fine motor skills.

A neck herniated disc is very uncomfortable and makes it difficult to turn your head in different directions. It will heal on its own in most cases and is not considered a severe condition, although if pain persists, it’s recommended to see a medical professional. 

Herniated Disc in the Back

If pain is centralized in the lower back and lumbar area, you likely have a herniated disc in your back. Herniated discs in the lower back are common and cause pain in the lower back area that shoots to the legs and feet. 

A herniated disc in the back can occur from improper lifting techniques, sudden twisting movements, or gradual wear and tear on the body as you age. It’s one of the most common back injuries and can happen to anyone.

A herniated disc in your back will heal on its own in most cases; however, just as having a neck injury, if the problem persists, you should see a medical professional. In the meantime, wearing a back brace could help to temporarily relieve pain so you can go about your daily activities. 

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Many symptoms follow a herniated disc injury, but some of the most common include the following:

  • Pain in the neck or lower back
  • Tingling sensation in hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Numbness and pins-and-needles sensation in affected areas
  • Muscle weakness and fatigue 
  • Stiffness in the muscles, which affects motor skills like writing or holding objects
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction, in rare cases

While some herniated disc cases may resolve by themselves, others may require medical intervention to alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage. Thus, it’s best to seek a doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Causes of a Herniated Disc

woman sitting at desk with neck pain

Besides injury or trauma to the spine, there are several other causes of a herniated disc, many of which occur due to natural reasons. 


The discs in your spine lose some water content as you age, making them less flexible and more prone to injury.

Repetitive strain 

Repeatedly lifting heavy objects or twisting and bending your body in unnatural positions can stress your discs, increasing the risk of a herniated disc.


Sometimes, a herniated disc is unavoidable for some people as they are genetically predisposed and at greater risk than others.

Poor posture

Sitting or standing for prolonged periods with poor posture can pressure the spine and increase the risk of disc herniation.


Being overweight or obese can strain your spine and, thus, increase the risk of a herniated disc.


Smoking can cause a decrease in the oxygen supply to the discs, making them more vulnerable to injury, and as a result, at risk of a herniated disc.

Home Remedies to Treat a Herniated Disc

woman icing her neck

If you’re wondering if a herniated disc will heal on its own, you’ll be pleased to know that, in most cases, there are home remedies you can do to help aid in healing a herniated disc.

Ice therapy 

Apply ice to the area. Ice will help reduce swelling and help slow down the blood flow to the injured area, which causes throbbing, aching pain. 

Heat therapy

After a few days of ice therapy, you can switch to using heat (such as a heating pad) to help relax tight muscles and increase blood flow to the area.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Medication

To help ease the pain, you can take ibuprofen or any other OTC drug your doctor cleared as safe for you to use. Resting for a day or two is also recommended to allow the injury to settle.


After some rest, it can help to begin gentle exercises and stretches to help improve mobility and flexibility and get the disc back into place.

Medical Treatment for Herniated Discs

woman getting a back massage

If home remedies are unsuccessful and you’re still dealing with the pain from a herniated disc, you may need medical attention. 

A chiropractor or massage therapist can help ease the pain by applying pressure to the injured area. Massage therapy also helps to loosen up the muscles surrounding the spine, which will help re-adjust the disc back into its proper place.

If the pain persists, you should see a medical doctor instead. A doctor may recommend an epidural steroid injection, which will immediately cease the pain. They may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication or muscle relaxant to help ease the symptoms.


A herniated disc may require surgery to correct the problem in rare but extreme cases. For example, if you’re having trouble bending, reaching, or sitting without pain for more than 3-6 months consecutively, you may be a candidate for surgery.

Patients needing spinal surgery to correct a herniated disc should not wait too long. Those who wait longer to get the procedure done are more likely to experience long-term side effects from the surgery than those who don’t wait. 


A herniated disc is an uncomfortable condition to experience. Still, in most cases, it’s not chronic and will heal on its own. With time, proper care, and home remedies, a herniated disc will heal independently without medical intervention.

In some rare extreme cases, you must notify a doctor and be administered medical treatment. Surgery is rarely needed, but it might be your only solution if your pain lasts more than 3-6 months despite home remedy treatments.