My wife heard this comment at her gym Wednesday night… she goes to Lifetime for kickboxing, and CrossFit with me. This was Lifetime. She was sitting near one of our neighbors after class, and the person commented to someone else that her “disc healed on a nerve”.
“Healed on a nerve?” her friend said.
“Yes, my doctor said that it healed after they injected it with junk, and it is now healed on the nerve”.
“What are they going to do?”
“Need to go in now I guess. I don’t want to, but they aren’t giving me many options.”
I need to make some comments on this topic. This is really a sad situation of poor understanding of how the body works, but it is because of a doctor poorly educating a patient. I can think of one really good reason why, it removes accountability from the doctor, and puts it all on the patient. First off, true healing is not healing with disease. True healing occurs when you heal to your natural state. A disc (protruded, herniated, etc) does not “heal” onto your nerve. It is still a clinical condition, it is still diseased and sick, it is not healed.
So why did this doctor use this terminology? He was injecting a steroid very likely, into her disc to reduce inflammation, and the “healing” terminology was used because it is easy to help a patient get around the idea of healing. The reality, is that all the steroid is doing is reducing inflammation, and healing is the thing that your body is doing on its own, under the control of the nervous system, however the nervous system is compromised by the disc pushing on the nerve, so it cannot heal.
You see, the important point of this discussion is that healing cannot occur without a clear signal from that nerve that is being compressed by the disc. So what do you do in this situation? Well, decompression is the necessary step. You need to try to remove the pressure from the nerve, and in that process gain healing of the disc. There is probably a 50/50 chance that she could be healed fully, if she does the right thing.
The conversation of the two women was preceded with a “My back is killing me comment, I shouldn’t be doing this class… but as long as I don’t do kicks I should be ok”. When in reality, she shouldn’t be doing any kind of twisting rotating motions with a disc that is protruded or herniated, and symptomatic. They should be focused on activities that will allow for healing to occur. Once again, misinformation has led her to believe she can continue without worsening the condition, when in reality, everything that she is doing is worsening her condition.
When you have the sensation of nerve pain, it is a sign that you have really put a significant amount of pressure on your nerve. It isn’t an insignificant problem at all. Nerve pressure comes without pain first and foremost, then it slowly develops into pain. When you feel it shooting down your leg, there is a significant amount of pressure, and it might be disc related. I know spending extra money isn’t anyone’s favorite pasttime, but if you have nerve pressure, then you should consider talking to us about trying decompression, and considering what other activities you should avoid.
I hope that helps you gain a little better understanding of your discs and healing. Be well, enjoy the weekend, Dr. E