Treating herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) in the cervical spine with medication
A herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) occurs when the gel-like center of the disc pushes through the tough outer wall of the disc and into the spinal canal. If you are experiencing pain and discomfort resulting from HNP in the cervical spine, your doctor could prescribe or recommend a variety of medications to help reduce your symptoms and facilitate the healing process.
Medications come in a variety of types, ranging from quick-release tablets, powders and pills to liquids and patches, and different medications have different risks, side effects and effectiveness. Therefore, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning treatment with medication, regardless of whether it’s prescribed or purchased over the counter.
Examples of medications for a herniated nucleus pulposus
HNP in the cervical spine can cause significant neck pain if the herniated disc material compresses a nerve root or the spinal cord. In most cases, however, this condition responds to conservative treatments like physical therapy, chiropractic care and medications. Some of the most common types of medications for disc herniation include:
- Acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is often prescribed to help treat pain and fever but does not contain anti-inflammatory properties. This drug is popular because it doesn’t carry a significant risk of side effects and is generally easier on the body.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs can help the healing process because they reduce inflammation and can potentially help the damaged disc heal. These drugs are also effective in treating neck pain caused by soft tissue injury.
- Corticosteroid injections. Epidural injections can provide meaningful short-term pain relief but do not heal the disc and are not recommended for continuous usage.
- Opioids. Opioids are powerful pain medications that are used to manage severe pain. These drugs bind with pain receptors to interfere with the transmission of pain signals. While opioids are extremely effective, they also have many serious side effects and can become habit forming.
- Other medications. Antidepressants, anti-seizure medication, pain patches and various other types of medications may be recommended to treat pain from HNP in the cervical spine.
Minimally invasive surgery to treat HNP in the cervical spine
Sometimes, patients require a more direct treatment approach to treat HNP than simply medication. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery that helps treat spine conditions at the source without the increased risks and lengthy recovery time^ compared to traditional open back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on HNP in the cervical spine and our minimally invasive procedures that can help you find relief from neck pain.
Our minimally invasive decompression procedure uses a less than 1-inch incision to remove a small portion of the herniated disc impacting a nerve root in the spinal canal. However, some severely herniated discs may require full removal from the spine and replacement with an artificial disc. This is performed with our minimally invasive stabilization surgery. To find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient HNP procedures, reach out to us and ask for a free MRI review.*