Is HNP surgery right for you?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), you’ve probably been researching your treatment options. While many patients find relief from conservative treatments, such as pain medication, physical therapy and other nonsurgical options, some patients may require HNP surgery. It’s important to thoroughly research and discuss with your doctor the many herniated nucleus pulposus treatment options available to you so you can make the right choice for your specific needs.

Also known as disc herniation, HNP occurs when a disc becomes brittle with age or injury and the gel-like inner material leaks through a tear in the fibrous outer disc wall. More often than not, a herniated disc produces no symptoms at all, and the condition often heals itself through a process known as a resorption. However, when the extruded inner material compresses a nearby nerve root, symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness can arise. If several weeks of alternative and conservative treatments such as pain medicine and physical therapy prove ineffective for symptom management, surgery might become an option.

Potential complications of HNP surgery

A surgeon might attempt to alleviate the symptoms associated with a herniated disc by performing a highly invasive, open back procedure. This type of treatment requires a large incision, at least one night of hospitalization and a recovery period that can last a year or more. It also carries several potential complications, including:

  • Fusion failure — a false joint, known as pseudoarthrosis, might develop if the bones don’t fuse as expected; additional surgery might be necessary.
  • Clots — also known as thrombosis; steps must be taken by the surgical team to prevent serious thrombosis-related problems, including pulmonary embolism.
  • Infection — this is relatively rare, but unpredictable; if infection occurs beneath the skin, additional surgery might be required.
  • Nerve damage — a surgical instrument that bumps or cuts a nerve can cause permanent damage.
    Minimally invasive fusion alternative

Laser Spine Institute offers many minimally invasive procedures, including a form of HNP surgery using state-of-the-art technology to target the source of painful nerve compression directly. Contact us today to learn how our neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain.

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