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Can a slip disc be repaired?

Q: I have diffusive type low back pain (for the last 1 year). The pain is also in the buttocks and legs. There is also numbness. MRI scans shows that there is bulge in the L4-L5 disc (according to my doctor just previous stage of PID). Now my question is: 1. Is there any medical treatment to repair the disc? 2. Apart from those NSAID & muscle relaxants there is any way to reduce the pain? 3. Can surgical treatment bring be to normal state? What will be the approximate cost here in India and the time required?

A:1. So far there is no medical treatment to repair the disc. 2. Usually NSAIDs and muscle relaxants are sufficient. There are other pain killers that basically provide symptomatic relief. 3. No. Surgical treatment will not bring you to normal state. Once a disc has lost its normal hydration (water content; which is important for its shock-absorbing function) there is no way to return it to its normal state. Surgery essentially reduces the pain that radiates to your leg by relieving the pressure on nerves. Therefore, when I say that you will not be normal, it is only in relation to your back being not normal because of the abnormal disc. Most patients benefit remarkably because of pain relief. Some patients who have associated degenerative changes in spine may have residual back pain. 4. Cost of surgery depends entirely on where you get it done it may range from free in a Government medical college, to about Rs.10,000/- in a private hospital on subsidised bed (general bed). However, in private wards it may go as high as Rs. 40-50 thousand. Normally you are up and walking in two to three days time and at least in my hospital I discharge my patients on the 4th or 5th day.

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