HNP and back pain — how are they linked?

HNP and back pain are often closely related. HNP stands for “herniated nucleus pulposus” and is more commonly known as a herniated disc. It often occurs as part of the natural aging process, due to the gradual deterioration of a disc in the spine.

Over the years, the spine can begin to wear down and the discs can begin to weaken and lose shape. In response to declining elasticity in the disc’s outer layer and dehydration of the water in the disc’s nucleus, a disc can bulge, collapse or deteriorate, sometimes to the point where the nucleus pulposus — the soft, gel-like inner material — pushes through the outer disc wall and extrudes into the spinal canal.

When this happens, back pain almost always follows.

HNP symptoms

HNP can often result in back pain, although the link between the two isn’t exact, meaning HNP does not always cause pain.

That’s because a herniated disc by itself usually does not result in back pain. In fact, you might have one or more herniated discs at this very moment, at any level of your spine, that are purely asymptomatic. HNP will only result in back pain when the inner disc material that is seeping into the spinal canal places pressure on a nearby spinal nerve or the spinal cord. It is this nerve compression that causes the symptoms associated with a herniated disc, not the herniation itself.


If HNP is causing you back pain, your physician will most likely recommend a series of conservative pain relief treatments, such as physical therapy, exercise, hot/cold therapy, pain medications or other alternative methods. These treatments have proven to be very effective in managing the symptoms of HNP for a large number of people.

However, some individuals fail to find relief through conservative treatments and instead turn to elective surgery.

If you have tried conservative treatments for months without any lasting pain relief, you may be a candidate for the minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. We offer patients an alternative to traditional open back surgery with minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective with a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk.

To treat a herniated disc, we offer minimally invasive decompression or stabilization surgery, though many patients find relief through our decompression procedures.

To see if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, or to learn more about the advantages of our different procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

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