“What is HNP?” This might be the question you ask your physician when he or she diagnoses you with this condition. HNP stands for “herniated nucleus pulposus,” and is commonly known as a herniated disc. Your intervertebral discs — the soft, cushioning bodies found between each of the vertebrae in your spine — provide support and flexibility. Over time, as part of the natural aging process, these bodies deteriorate and can bulge, thin or develop other abnormalities. In some cases, the degeneration can progress to a point where the gel-like inner material of the disc, the nucleus pulposus, pushes through the thick, outer disc wall and seeps into the spinal canal. This, in short, is the answer to the question, “What is HNP?”
Believe it or not, even if you aren’t experiencing back pain or other symptoms, it’s still entirely possible that you have one or more herniated discs at various levels of your spine at this very moment. That’s because by itself, HNP does not necessarily produce any negative side effects. It’s only when the nucleus pulposus seeps into the spinal canal and impinges upon a nearby spinal nerve — or even the spinal cord itself — that symptoms arise. This nerve compression, not the disc herniation itself, is actually what causes the more serious symptoms associated with HNP. These symptoms can include:
- Chronic pain in the back and neck
- Pain that travels the length of a nerve
- Loss of reflexes
After asking your physician, “What is HNP?” your next question will undoubtedly be, “How do I treat it?” The good news is that most people can find relief from their pain and other symptoms through a series of conservative, non-surgical treatments. These typically include exercise, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, stretching, massage, chiropractics, and others. Always consult your physician before beginning any treatment program.
Minimally Invasive Alternatives
Some individuals simply don’t experience pain relief through conservative methods, however, and instead turn to a last resort — elective surgery. If you haven’t been able to reduce your pain from HNP after weeks or months of conservative treatment, contact USA Spine Care today to learn more about our advanced, minimally invasive procedures. Tens of thousands of patients have trusted our orthopedic surgeons to perform our procedures, which are an effective alternative to open back surgery.
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