Cervical HNP: herniated nucleus pulposus in the upper spine

Living with a cervical herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) can be difficult, with symptoms potentially interfering with your ability to perform basic activities such as driving, spending time with loved ones or getting a good night’s sleep. Finding lasting relief is possible however, and a great first step is learning more about this condition so you can be more engaged with the treatment process.

A herniated nucleus pulposus means that one of the discs in the cervical (upper) region of the spine has developed a tear in the outer wall causing the inner nucleus gel, called the nucleus pulposus, to push out into the spinal canal. Because the cervical spine is responsible for supporting and moving the head, the discs in this section of the spine undergo constant wear and tear. The continual movement and pressure from the surrounding vertebrae can cause a herniated disc, or HNP, to develop.

Symptoms of nerve compression caused by cervical HNP

A cervical HNP does not always produce symptoms, and the condition can heal itself through a process known as resorption. During resorption, the body recognizes the leaked disc nucleus as a foreign substance in the body. It then absorbs the material into the bloodstream as it works to naturally repair and rebuild the damaged disc.

However, if the protruded disc material within the cervical spine begins to irritate or compress a nearby spinal nerve, the following symptoms can develop:

  • Sharp or constant pain in the neck, shoulders or upper back
  • Pain or a burning sensation that radiates along the length of a nerve, down the arm and into the hands and fingers
  • Pain associated with rotating or twisting the head
  • Tightness or stiffness in the neck, shoulders or upper back
  • Tenderness when the area is touched
  • Headaches

In many cases, these symptoms can be managed using conservative treatments such as pain medication, targeted exercise, physical therapy or lifestyle changes. Your physician can work with you to create a conservative treatment plan based on the cause of your condition and your current lifestyle. Often, nonsurgical treatments can take several months before you feel a noticeable difference in your symptoms.

Minimally invasive spine surgery for cervical HNP

Not everyone finds relief from cervical HNP with conservative treatment. Some patients require spine surgery to relieve pressure from the pinched nerve in the neck through the removal of herniated disc material.

If you are being recommended for spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Since 2005 we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Our surgeons use muscle-sparing techniques to perform our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures on an outpatient basis, leading to less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.

Take the next step toward pain relief today and reach out to Laser Spine Institute. We can review your MRI report or CT scan at no cost* to help you find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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