Spinal Glossary: N

  • NASS: North American Spine Society. A multidisciplinary organization for spine care professionals and researchers that advances quality spine care through education, research and advocacy.
  • neoplasm: An abnormal overgrowth of cells that can eventually produce a mass of tissue such as a tumor or a lump.
  • nerve root block: Injection of corticosteroids (anti-inflammatories) and a local anesthetic onto the nerve root sleeve surrounding a nerve root.
  • NIH: National Institutes of Health. One of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Services Agencies. The NIH is the federal base for medical research in the U.S.
  • NP: Nurse practitioner. Registered nurse with additional education and training.
  • NSAIDs: Non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Medications also used to reduce swelling and inflammation. Examples of NSAIDs are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and a variety of prescription drugs. There are different classes of NSAID medications, including COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors.
  • nucleus pulposus: The gel-like inner nucleus material of an intervertebral disc. It is contained by the annulus fibrosus, which is the cartilaginous outer wall of the disc. A ruptured disc can cause the nucleus pulposus to leak from the disc and compress nearby spinal nerves.
  • neuropathy: A term used to describe damage to a nerve, which may be caused by disease, injury, degenerative conditions or a variety of other causes. Mild cases of neuropathy may result in traveling symptoms like pain and tingling that follow the path of the damaged nerve. However, severe cases of neuropathy can result in paralysis and muscle atrophy.
  • neuropathic: A term used to describe pain and other symptoms that are caused by damage to a nerve. Nerve damage can be the result of disease, injury or degeneration due to aging. Neuropathic pain can vary in severity, either remaining localized at the site of nerve damage or spreading throughout the body and affecting any muscles or dermatomes innervated by that nerve.
  • neck pain: Any type of discomfort in the cervical (upper) region of the spine; the pain may be due to muscular strain, bone fracture, nerve impingement or a wide range of other conditions.
  • nerve pain: Various forms of pain (sharp, stabbing, throbbing, burning, etc.) that follows the path of a nerve.
  • neuralgia: Chronic nerve pain that travels along the path of the nerve and may present in a variety of ways, such as sharp, dull, throbbing or burning pain.
  • neurogenic claudication: A combination of symptoms that typically includes lower back pain, leg pain, leg weakness and numbness; these symptoms may intensify when standing or walking. Neurogenic claudication is a common set of symptoms with spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of nerve passageways in the lumbar (lower) spine.
  • neck surgery: Any operation performed in the neck area. Neck surgery can be performed for a variety of reasons, but when it relates to the spine, neck procedures are often performed to relieve pain caused by a degenerative spine condition.
  • nerve root: The beginning portion of a nerve that is branching off the central nervous system.
  • naproxen: A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat mild to moderate pain.
  • neurosurgery: A medical specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the nervous system, including the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.
  • neurosurgeon: A surgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of conditions affecting the brain, spine and other innervated areas of the body.
  • neurogenic pain: Pain that develops in the nervous system, including pain resulting from compression of a spinal nerve, which may be felt at the site of the impingement or in other innervated areas of the body.