A herniated nucleus pulposus (HNP) diagnosis is usually reached after a patient reports to their doctor with symptoms of pain and discomfort. HNP can become painful when the jellylike center (nucleus pulposus) of an intervertebral disc seeps through a tear in the exterior disc wall and into the spinal canal. Some patients experience no symptoms at all, sometimes leaving this condition undiagnosed for years.
How is an HNP Diagnosis Reached?
When symptoms are present, a doctor or back specialist will usually take an account of the patient’s medical history to assess if other factors (such as a history of obesity or an especially strenuous occupation) could contribute towards the development of a herniated disc or other spinal condition. A physical exam to test strength and reflexes will typically follow. Some diagnostic tests may also be required, which could include one or more of the following:
- Blood tests
- CT scan
An HNP diagnosis usually can be achieved through one or all of the methods listed above. Once a doctor has definitively diagnosed a patient’s spinal condition, treatment to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with a herniated disc can begin.
How is HNP Treated?
Even for patients whose symptoms don’t respond to conservative treatments (such as bed rest or over-the-counter pain medications), an HNP diagnosis doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of pain. Some patients may choose surgery to alleviate their symptoms. The safe and effective endoscopic procedures performed by Laser Spine Institute utilize small incisions, IV sedation and local anesthesia, presenting less risk than open-back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute for more information about our minimally invasive treatment options.