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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 loss of water in the disc’s nucleus, a disc can begin to break down, 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.

HNP symptoms

Although this condition is not necessarily painful, irritation or compression of nearby nerves can result in a number of symptoms, often including back pain.

In fact, many patients develop this condition without being aware of it, with symptoms developing gradually or not at all. HNP will typically only result in back pain when the inner disc material that is pushing into the spinal canal places pressure on a nearby spinal nerve root or the spinal cord. It can also sometimes result in local irritation of the nerves in the outer layer of the spinal disc. 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 doctor will most likely recommend a series of conservative 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 people are unable 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 USA Spine Care. 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 of complication.^

To treat a herniated disc, we offer minimally invasive decompression — which only involves removal of the spinal anatomy needed to relieve nerve compression — and minimally invasive stabilization surgery, which is an outpatient alternative to traditional fusion procedures. To learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery, contact USA Spine Care today.

A member of our caring and dedicated team can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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