If you are experiencing neck or back pain, you may wonder, “What does HNP stand for?” HNP stands for “herniated nucleus pulposus.” The term might make a bit more sense if we break down its components. The nucleus pulposus is the gel-like inner material that is contained within intervertebral discs, which are the protective cartilaginous pads situated between adjacent vertebrae. The nucleus pulposus is contained within a fibrous disc wall called the annulus fibrosus. As we age, the entire disc loses height, elasticity and water content. This general weakening makes the disc prone to developing a tear, or rupture, in the annulus fibrosus, a condition referred to as a herniated disc.
Is HNP painful?
HNP is not in and of itself painful. Only when the extruded nucleus pulposus leaks into the spinal canal and presses on nearby spinal nerves or the spinal cord do symptoms present. These symptoms may include pain, tingling, numbness or weakness that travels along the path of the compressed nerve. Discomfort may begin in the back, but spread throughout the extremities. You should be aware that the symptoms of a herniated disc do occur in stages. An electric or shooting pain occurs at the onset of neural compression; numbness or loss of feeling occur after prolonged compression when the nerves may actually have become damaged. Visit your physician as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms so that no permanent damage, paralysis or muscle atrophy occurs.
Is any form of back or neck discomfort a sign of HNP?
Keep in mind that spine pain or discomfort in the extremities is not necessarily indicative of herniated nucleus pulposus. The most common reason behind most pain in the neck or back is a strained muscle or sprained ligament, both of which should abate over time with medication, hot-cold therapy and intermittent periods of rest. If your physician does confirm a diagnosis of HNP, he or she might suggest a course of non-invasive disc herniation therapy. This could include yoga, massage, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), epidural steroid injections or transdermal analgesic pain patches, among others.
The role of Laser Spine Institute
If conservative treatments fail to offer you lasting pain relief, your physician may suggest that you consider the option of surgery. If this is the case, you should know that a highly invasive open spine operation is not your only option. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that have helped tens of thousands of people find meaningful relief from neck and back pain. Contact us today for your MRI or CT scan review.