Paracentral HNP — herniated nucleus pulposus

Paracentral herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) describes a disc near the center of the spine that has torn open and has allowed the nucleus of the disc to extend into the spinal column. This condition is generally caused by the natural aging process of the spine, but can also be related to sudden injury or trauma.

A closer look at the parts of this term can make understanding the condition much easier:

  • Paracentral means situated near the center. More specific diagnoses may indicate right or left of center
  • Herniated means that the inner material of a disc has ruptured through a tear in the tough outer wall of the disc
  • Nucleus pulposus is the gel-like nucleus material in the disc that herniates into the spinal column

On its own, a paracentral HNP does not necessarily cause symptoms, but it can become painful if the herniated material from the disc comes into contact with the spinal cord or a nerve root. When this happens, pain relief can be found through nonsurgical or surgical treatments.

Causes of paracentral HNP

Paracentral HNP can be caused by an injury, but more often than not it is a result of the natural aging process. When we age, the discs that naturally cushion the spine begin to wear down by losing water content and elasticity. As these discs weaken, small tears can develop in the walls and allow the disc material to protrude into the spinal column.

Besides age, injury or trauma, additional causes or contributors of paracentral HNP include smoking, being overweight or obese, poor posture and genetics.

Treatment of HNP

If you’ve been diagnosed with a paracentral herniated disc, your doctor will most likely start your treatment with conservative therapy. Some of the most common treatments recommended include:

  • Heat therapy, such as a heating pad
  • Cold therapy, such as an ice pack
  • Rest
  • Acupuncture
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication or injections

If these treatments do not offer the pain relief you are looking for and you and your doctor are discussing the possibility of surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery. Because our muscle-sparing procedures are performed with a small incision in an outpatient setting, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication and infection^ compared to traditional open back surgery.

Many cases of a damaged disc can be treated with a decompression surgery, which removes a small portion of the herniated disc in order to reduce pressure on a pinched nerve. However, if disc damage is severe, a minimally invasive stabilization may be recommended, which is our outpatient alternative to traditional fusion procedures.

To learn more about the advantages of the minimally invasive spine surgery and to find out if you are a potential candidate, ask a member of our caring team for your free MRI review.*

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