What is a Herniated Disc?
Herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP), more commonly known as a herniated disc or slipped disc, is a common result of the natural aging process and occurs when a disc in the spine breaks open and leaks its gel-like center 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.
Since this condition 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 relieve your pain and get back to your active lifestyle. Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms associated with a herniated disc.
What Causes Herniated Disc Symptoms?
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 and spongy bodies, lose elasticity over the years and can collapse, bulge, or otherwise deform.
While this can occur naturally with time, both injuries and physically strenuous jobs can also take a toll on the discs. Sometimes, disc deformation will progress to the point that the gel-like inner material of the disc pushes through the outer layer of the disc 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 doctor 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
- Weight management
- Low-impact exercise
These treatments generally take several weeks or months before lasting effects can take place.
Herniated Disc Treatment with BEST Health System
If you continue to experience pain after months of conservative therapy, you may consider surgery. Modern advancements have allowed the development of minimally invasive surgical procedures. These procedures offer many benefits including less scarring, smaller incisions, and a quicker recovery time. Contact BEST to learn more about our modern surgical options.