Back Pain Treatments

Disappearing Herniated Disc

This interesting report details the case of a 48-year-old woman who developed right-sided scapular pain after some heavy lifting. MRI showed loss of normal cervical lordosis, degeneration between C5-6 and C6-7, as well as disc herniations at C3-4, C5-6, and C6-7. The C6-7 herniation was large and was compressing the spinal cord. She was scheduled for surgery two weeks after the initial MRI scan.

On the day of her scheduled surgery, she reported that her symptoms had resolved and she declined surgery; two years later, complaining of intermittent scapular pain, she was given another MRI. "Follow-up MR imaging again demonstrated loss of normal cervical lordosis; however, the C6-7 disc herniation had resolved dramatically and, to a lesser extent, so had the herniations at the C3-4 and C5-6 levels."

The authors (neurosurgeons) conclude, "We do not advocate conservative management of a large herniated cervical disc that becomes symptomatic with myelopathy; however, this case illustrates the potential for the spontaneous regression of even significantly sized herniated cervical discs."

Westmark RM, Westmark KD, Sonntag VKH. Disappearing cervical disc: case report. Journal of Neurosurgery 1997;86:289-290.