Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) at the C5/C6 level is a diagnosis used to explain the presence of a herniated intervertebral disc between the fifth and sixth vertebrae in the cervical (neck) spine. This degenerative spine condition can lead to neck pain and other pain-related symptoms, which may require decompression treatment to achieve meaningful pain relief. Disc degeneration is common in the neck because of its flexibility and its responsibility of supporting the weight of the skull.
HNP at the C5/C6 can lead to neck pain when the herniated disc material – the nucleus pulposus – extrudes into the spinal column and comes in contact with either the spinal cord or a nerve root. It is this nerve compression that causes pain and requires treatment. However, a pinched nerve can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because pain can travel along the affected nerve to a different part of the body. This is why it is important to visit a doctor for a complete diagnosis if you are suffering from neck pain or any other prolonged, unexplained aches and pains.
Conservative and Pain Management Treatments
In most cases, cervical HNP can be effectively treated with conservative, at-home treatments. Pain medication, muscle relaxants, light exercises and stretching, and the application of heat or ice may all be recommended. If these noninvasive treatments do not provide you with the pain relief required, the doctor may suggest that you visit a pain management specialist. Some of the pain management techniques available include:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS therapy)
- Pain patches
- Epidural or corticosteroid injections
- Ultrasound therapy
The Surgical Decision
Should the patient’s pain persist, the doctor may then recommend spinal surgery as a last resort. If this is your situation, contact Laser Spine Institute, the Leader in Endoscopic Spine Surgery™, to learn how one of our minimally invasive procedures may be just the thing you need to help you rediscover your life without back and neck pain.