Neck Disc Bulges Can Heal Themselves | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Neck Disc Bulges Can Heal Themselves

Neck Disc Bulges Can Heal Themselves -

Cervical Disc Herniation: Spontaneous Regression

Spontaneous regression of herniated lumbar disc has been well established in the literature, but, not for cervical discs.

3 Proposed Mechanisms for Spontaneous Regressions of Discs:
  1. Dehydration and shrinkage of the herniated nucleus pulposus.
  2. Retraction of the protruded disc.
  3. Recognized as a foreign body, leading to an inflammatory response, and subsequent disc resorption.
Sharma et al. (2021), published a case study and reviewed 75 cases of spontaneous regression of herniated cervical discs from the literature.

  • 24-year-old male.
  • 3 weeks of severe neck pain.
  • Right upper arm radicular pain.
  • Right C7 distribution weakness/numbness. 

MRI showed a right paracentral disc extrusion at the C6-C7.

The patient chose to try conservative management, including:
  • Analgesics
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Cervical collar
  • Physical therapy
After 4 weeks, all symptoms vastly improved. 

The follow-up MRI 3 months later revealed significant spontaneous regression of the C6-C7 disc extrusion.

75 Cases included 

Predominant symptoms included:
  • Neck pain and/or radiculopathy (91%).
  • Myelopathy (9%).
Herniations were:
  • Paracentral or foraminal in 61 cases (84%).
  • Central in 12 cases (16%).
  • At C5-C6 (31 cases)
  • At C6-C7 (22 cases)
Average time of spontaneous regression was 9.15 months.

Successive MRI studies documented the spontaneous regression of herniated cervical discs over an average of 9.15 months. 

Conservative therapy is a viable initial treatment strategy over surgery.

Sharma et al. 2021. Spontaneous regression of herniated cervical disc: A case report and literature review. Surgical Neurology International. 12(141).

Dalton Urrutia, MSc PT

Dalton is a Physical Therapist from Oregon, currently living and running the performance physiotherapy clinic he founded in London for Grapplers and Strength & Conditioning athletes. Dalton runs the popular instagram account @physicaltherapyresearch, where he posts easy summaries of current and relevant research on health, fitness, and rehab topics. 
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