What types of doctors are herniated nucleus pulposus specialists?

A herniated nucleus pulposus specialist is a term for a doctor who can provide more specialized treatment for this condition than a general practitioner. You may have been diagnosed with a herniated nucleus pulposus after going to see your primary care doctor regarding neck pain, back pain or other symptoms. But if over-the-counter medication, periods of rest, gentle stretching and other initial treatments don’t offer enough relief, your doctor can refer you to a spine specialist who can often provide more advanced testing and treatment.

What is a herniated nucleus pulposus?

The spine is made of a stack of bones, called vertebrae, which are responsible for keeping our upper bodies upright and protecting the central nervous system as it travels from the brain out to the rest of the body. The vertebrae are cushioned by rubbery discs that absorb shock and allow the spine to bend and flex smoothly. Age-related degeneration can cause the discs to dry out and lose their elasticity, leading to a number of problems. A herniated nucleus pulposus occurs when the center of a disc, called the nucleus pulposus, begins to push out through a tear in the outer layer, or annulus fibrosus. Symptoms of this condition, also called a herniated disc, usually develop as a result of compression or irritation of surrounding nervous tissue in the spinal column.

Types of spine specialists

While some think referral to a specialist for the treatment of a herniated nucleus pulposus automatically means a surgical consultation, there are many types of doctors who have expertise in treating spine conditions. Examples include:

  • Neurologist. This is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the nervous system, including spinal nerve compression.
  • Chiropractor. Although not a medical doctor, a doctor of chiropractic medicine is an expert in spinal anatomy and can provide relief through methods like manual adjustment and massage.
  • Physiatrist. A physiatrist is a physician specializing in physical and rehabilitative medicine who can treat a herniated nucleus pulposus from a functional perspective, often with the assistance of a physical therapist.
  • Spine surgeon. Spine surgeons can either be orthopedic surgeons or neurosurgeons who can access the spinal column and remove herniated disc material to take pressure off of surrounding spinal nerves.

The specialists at Laser Spine Institute

Before spine surgery becomes a consideration, a herniated nucleus pulposus specialist should ensure that conservative treatment options such as physical therapy, epidural steroid injections and chiropractic care have been fully explored. Many patients are reluctant to undergo surgery due to the downsides involved with traditional open spine surgery, including hospitalization, a long recovery period and risk of complications.

As a safer and effective alternative, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive spine surgery on an outpatient basis — leading to less risk of complication and a shorter recovery period compared to traditional open spine procedures.^

To learn more, contact our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants today and ask for your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.