Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) prevention, if started early enough, can help many avoid the pain and discomfort associated with this spinal condition. HNP occurs when the tough exterior of an intervertebral disc tears, allowing its nucleus pulposus (or jellylike center) to seep into the spinal canal. Understanding what causes a disc to tear can help patients understand ways to encourage HNP prevention.
Causes and Prevention
Most intervertebral disc tears occur as a result of the natural aging process. Continued wear from everyday activities like walking and sitting can weaken the exterior of a disc. While the aging process is certainly not avoidable, there are many things a patient can do to prevent HNP. The following factors can cause a patient to develop a herniated disc earlier in life, and can also exacerbate the condition in older patients:
- Physically-taxing occupations that can require continual lifting and/or frequent bending
- A sedentary lifestyle
HNP prevention is not possible for all patients, especially those who develop a herniated disc as a result of the natural aging process. Patients who have passed the point of prevention, and who have already been diagnosed with the condition, should speak with their doctor to learn about methods of treatment. Most commonly, doctors will prescribe the following conservative treatments:
- Bed rest
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Hot and/or cold therapy
- Physical therapy
If these treatments provide little relief, some patients may require surgery. Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive endoscopic procedures as an alternative to open-back surgery. These procedures utilize small incisions, IV sedation and local anesthesia, presenting fewer risks than open-back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to schedule a free MRI or CT scan review and for more information on the treatments that are available when HNP prevention is no longer possible.