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Disc, schmisc 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Patients with back pain and sciatica recovered about equally well with or without disc herniations visible on MRI. Most people recovered (84%) well within a year … and there were actually 2% more good outcomes in the patients with disc herniations! This seems like a rather surprising result, but that is what the research has been showing for years. There is a chance the nearly identical stats are a fluke, but they’d have to be off by a lot to change the take-home message. Even a 20-point difference, ten times larger than this, would still show that a “slipped disc” confirmed by MRI isn’t nearly as worrisome as most people assume.

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