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 and due to natural age-related changes, 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.

Lumbar HNP causes

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 can cause symptoms either from irritation of the disc itself by HNP material or when the disc material comes into contact with or presses against the spinal cord or a nerve root in the spinal column. Nerve compression can cause symptoms of shooting pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness in the lower extremities.

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 while the progress of the condition is monitored. 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

In some cases several months of conservative treatments do not relieve pain or symptoms of HNP and spine surgery may be recommended. If you are exploring surgical treatment for your HNP, contact Laser Spine Institute.

At Laser Spine Institute, we provide minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to treat a herniated disc and other spine conditions. Since 2005, we’ve helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain at our state-of-the-art outpatient facilities across the United States. Our board-certified surgeons+ are able to access the spine with a small incision, sparing surrounding muscles and other tissue from excessive disruption. The result is a streamlined patient experience with less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.

Find out if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by calling Laser Spine Institute at and requesting a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*

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