Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), more commonly known as a herniated disc, is a common result of the natural aging process and occurs when a disc in the spine breaks open and leaks inner disc nucleus into the spinal canal. The symptoms of HNP occur if a piece of the damaged disc or nucleus presses against a nerve root in the spinal canal or the spinal cord itself.
Because HNP often occurs as a result of the natural weakening of the spine, the symptoms typically start gradually and worsen over time. If you are able to identify the symptoms quickly, you can work with your doctor to find treatment options to help you alleviate the pain and get back to your active lifestyle.
What actually causes the symptoms of HNP?
A herniated disc, or HNP, is often caused by the gradual breakdown of the discs in the spine. While this alone does not cause symptoms, the damaged disc can press against a nearby nerve root, which can cause nerve compression, pain and discomfort.
The discs in the spine, which are soft, spongy bodies, lose elasticity over the years and can collapse, bulge or otherwise deform. While this can occur naturally with time, injuries and physically strenuous jobs also can take a toll on the discs. Sometimes, disc deformation will progress to the point that the gel-like inner material of the disc — the nucleus pulposus — pushes through the thicker, outer disc wall and into the spinal canal. This is a herniated nucleus pulposus.
HNP symptoms can vary, but commonly include:
These symptoms can appear at the location of the herniated disc or throughout the nerve pathway into the nearest arm or leg.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc or HNP, your physician can begin treatment by recommending a series of nonsurgical therapies to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve. The most common nonsurgical treatments include:
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Lifestyle changes like weight loss
- Exercise (mild)
These treatments generally take several months before lasting effects can take place.
Minimally invasive procedures
If you’re still suffering after the conservative treatment regimen has been completed, you should call Laser Spine Institute for information about our minimally invasive spine surgery.
We offer minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat a herniated disc or HNP. Our procedures are safer and effective than traditional open back surgery^ because we do not require a large incision or muscle detachment. Instead, our minimally invasive surgery is performed through a small incision and moves the muscles aside instead of cutting them, which allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication.
Our minimally invasive decompression surgery, which is the most common of our procedures for a damaged disc, removes pressure on the pinched nerve in the spine by cutting out a small piece of the damaged disc. If the disc is so damaged it can no longer support the surrounding vertebrae, a stabilization surgery may be needed to remove the disc and insert an artificial one in its place.
To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan. We’ve helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, and we are confident we can help you on your journey to wellness.