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Orthopedics. 2009 Nov;32(11):852. doi: 10.3928/01477447-20090922-21.

Spontaneous disappearance of lumbar disk herniation within 3 months.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Gifu Municipal Hospital, Gifu, Japan.


Although spontaneous regression of disk herniation is a well-known phenomenon, the time taken for the condition to resolve has not been detailed in previous studies. This article describes a case of vanishing lumbar disk herniation in a 33-year-old man. The patient experienced sudden severe lumbar pain while lifting a 240-kg weight while attempting a Donkey Calf Raise during muscle training. The pain persisted despite the use of a lumbar corset and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Twelve days after onset, sensory disturbance appeared in the right L5 dermatome, and a manual muscle test of the right anterior tibial muscle revealed level 3. The pain gradually spread over the right lower extremity and the indistinct lumbago changed to localized back pain at the L4/5 vertebral level. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine 12 days after onset revealed a large disk herniation at L4/5. T2-weighted images demonstrated the herniated disk with a sequestrated disk fragment, which compressed the right L5 nerve root. Over the following month, his pain gradually diminished and he was able to resume his muscle-building program. Follow-up MRI 3 months after the lumbar injury showed complete disappearance of the extruded disk material. This is the first reported case of disk herniation that disappeared within only 3 months, as previous reports have reported that a minimum 30-week period was needed. Clinical awareness of the possibility that disk herniation may resolve within a relatively short time may aid both correct informed consent and treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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