A spine specialist told me I have two herniated discs, and that a piece of disc broke off and is floating around in my spinal canal. Is it possible to avoid having surgery with a loose fragment like this?

A loose fragment from an injured disc may push against the nerves within the spinal canal. Sometimes the symptoms from a disc fragment can be relieved and managed with a program of physical therapy and exercise. Also, these fragments occasionally scar down to the point that symptoms go away.

However, if you start feeling more and more numbness in the lower limbs or if you have pain that is too much to bear, surgery may be recommended. In some cases, a loose fragment can press against the nerves that control the bowels and bladder. This is a medical emergency requiring immediate medical assistance.

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