HNP in the lumbar spine

Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) in the lumbar spine is another name for a herniated disc in the lower back, which can lead to chronic lower back pain and sciatica.

HNP occurs when a disc in the spine is compressed under the constant pressure of the surrounding vertebrae. Over time, the disc’s elastic outer layer begins to weaken and lose shape, which can lead to a tear or fissure in the disc. When a fissure occurs, the inner disc fluid, or nucleus pulposus, can herniate and leak through the tear into the spinal canal.

The cause of lower back pain

HNP in the lumbar spine is a relatively common form of spine degeneration and is commonly found in the L4-L5, L5 and L5-S1 areas of the spine.

The lumbar spine is a common place for degenerative conditions to develop because it is responsible for supporting the weight and movement of the upper body. This combination of mobility and strain puts significant pressure on the lumbar spine, which is why lower back pain is so common.

However, the presence of HNP in the lumbar spine isn’t enough to cause back pain on its own. A herniated disc causes symptoms when the disc material comes into contact with or presses against the spinal cord or a nerve root in the spinal column. Any pain experienced from the HNP in the lumbar spine is really pain from nerve compression in the lumbar spine.

Treatment options

Conservative treatment of HNP is usually a combination of managing the symptoms and helping the disc heal through the body’s own resorption process — a process where the body absorbs damaged disc material in the bloodstream to repair the disc.

Many physicians will first treat patients with conservative treatments for several months until pain relief is achieved. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Low-impact exercises or stretching
  • Deep tissue massage or chiropractic care
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Pain medications or muscle relaxants
  • Limited rest or spine support

Occasionally, several months of conservative treatments do not alleviate pain or symptoms of HNP, in which case spine surgery may be considered.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to treat a herniated disc. While many patients may find relief through a decompression surgery, some patients with severe disc damage may find that stabilization surgery is the best treatment option for their needs.

To date, we’ve helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, many of whom had suffered from the pain of a herniated or damaged disc. Because our procedures are minimally invasive, we offer several advantages over traditional open back surgery. For example, our patients experience a shorter recovery time§ and a lower risk of infection and complication.

Find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by calling Laser Spine Institute and requesting a review of your MRI report or CT scan.