Runner with Herniated Disc. Part 2

Herniated discs in the lumbar spine typically improve in response to conservative measures. This has been shown even when there is numbness and weakness. Studies have shown that most discs that are herniated resorb or shrink over time, thus relieving pressure on the nerve roots. For these reasons, I recommend non-operative treatment for at least six weeks before considering surgery. The results of surgical and non-surgical treatment have been compared. There does appear to be some early benefit to surgery, however, over a longer period, the results seem to be quite similar.

A.Activity level in a patient with a herniated disc is somewhat dependent on response to the treatment. Clearly, non-operative measures are the first step. If the non-operative measures fail, then surgery may be called for. In either case, if the treatment is successful, then my goal is to help the patient return to an active lifestyle. Many professional athletes, including Joe Montana and Jose Canseco, have had lumbar spine surgery and been able to return to their respective sports. I think it is quite reasonable that as your symptoms subside you will get back into running.

Clearly, some strenuous physical activities place the patient at increased risk of a recurrence of their symptoms. Patients should receive instructions on such measures as proper lifting techniques that can help prevent further problems with the spine.

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