Back Pain due to L5 bulging disk

Patient

Q: I have 3 bulging disk a annular tear in my L5 Disk. My question is how long should this take to heal, from what I have read a long time. Also, when will the pain lessen?

Doctor

A:   This condition is not going to heal by itself, and the problem is that the bulging part of the disk that is coming out from the annular tear may be compressing the nerve that is very close and exits by  the intervertebral space. The back pain with or without radiation to the legs, burning, tingling sensations is caused by the herniated disk  compressing the nerve and  producing an inflammatory process :neuritis, that if it is kept for long time may cause irreversible damage to the nerve . The bulging of the content of the disk is more common in the lumbar region than  the cervical, but it can occur in both indeed. The bulging may or may not be clinically significant. Some patients with bulges are symptomatic and have a lot of pain, while others remain totally asymptomatic. Basically the conservative treatment of the Lumbar Radiculopathy is Physical Therapy aimed to recondition and stabilize the lumbar spine by re-educating and  teaching you a daily stretching routine for the lumbar area, strengthening of abdominal muscles, and other important general recommendations as follows: sleeping with a pillow between your knees lying on the side, avoid activities that place additional strain on the lumbar spine (example: weight lifting). All of the above, with the objective to keep you as far as possible from episodes of acute low back pain, and also to preserve your quality of life. But if the pain and the neurological symptoms worsen, the surgical treatment option might be considered to decompress and avoid more damage to the  affected nerve.

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