Traditional Chinese medicine treatment for ruptured lumbar disc herniation: clinical observations in 102 cases

Orthop Surg. 2014 Aug;6(3):229-35. doi: 10.1111/os.12120.


Objective: To explore the therapeutic effects of a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) regimen on patients with ruptured lumbar disc herniation, including assessing its effects on prognosis and protrusion size.

Methods: From June 2008 to December 2011, 102 patients with ruptured lumbar disc herniation who chose conservative treatment with TCM as their first choice were followed up for 2 years to assess their final surgical rate, improvement according to Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, and to calculate the volume and rate of resorption of their protrusions by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Results: (i) Eighty-three of the 102 patients (81.37%) experienced partial or complete relief; the remaining 19 (18.63%) eventually needed surgery. (ii) In the 83 patents who underwent conservative treatment, rates of excellent JOA scores at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years were 79.52%, 81.93%, 81.93% and 83.13% respectively; differences between these and pretreatment scores are all statistically significant (P < 0.01). (iii) The volume of protrusion in the patients who chose conservative treatment decreased from 1433.89 ± 525.49 mm(3) (mean ± SD) to 1002.01 ± 592.95 mm(3), which is statistically significant (t = 6.854, P < 0.01). The average resorption rate was 27.25% ± 32.97%; in 20 patients (24.10%) the resorption rate was >50%. The remaining 63 patients had no obvious resorption; their excellent rate was 77.77%. The difference in rate of achieving an excellent outcome differed significantly between those who did and did not have resorption of their protrusions (P = 0.018).

Conclusion: Conservative treatment with a TCM regimen is effective for ruptured lumbar disc herniation and can promote resorption of the protrusion; however, patients who develop specific indications for surgery during such treatment should undergo surgery in a timely manner.

Keywords: Intervertebral disc displacement; Lumbar vertebra; Posterior longitudinal ligament; Resorption; Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae* / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult