LUMBAR SPONDYLOSIS – AN OVERVIEW

By avn
10:31 am Posted June 8, 2016
In Uncategorized

Lumbar spondylosis, also known as lumbar osteoarthritis, is a degenerative condition that gradually develops over time. The bones and protective cartilage undergo wear and tear and this could result in lumbar spondylosis. The combination of the cartilage and the fluid enables the joint to move with less friction. However, due to degeneration the discs tend to dehydrate and shrink. This causes restriction in movement as the joint gets stiff.

Symptoms of lumbar spondylosis:

  • Restricted range of motion.
  • Back pain and stiffness.
  • Tingling, numbness and weakness in the legs, buttocks, or bowel and bladder due to compression of the nerves within or exiting the spinal canal.
  • Gait disorder.
  • Sometimes, instability of the spine can also occur.

Causes of Lumbar spondylosis

As one grows older, the bones and cartilage of the spine gradually undergo wear and tear. So, multiple changes occur in the spine. The main purpose of the lumbar spine is to support the majority of body weight. But overtime, as the spine undergoes repetitive motions, heavy lifting, or even weight gain, compression of the lumbar vertebrae happens. Hence, there is pressure to the discs and joints which results in deterioration in the functioning of the lumbar spine and possibility of development of other spine conditions such as spinal stenosis.

The soft, elastic material that absorbs the shock of lifting, twisting, and other activities inside the discs dries out over time. This causes the bones to rub against each other resulting in pain. This condition is mostly seen in people over the age of 40.

Sometimes, cracks can develop in the spinal discs leading to leakage of the gel-like material. This material can press the spinal cord and nerves resulting in numbness and sciatica. This condition is called herniation of the discs.

Lumbar spondylosis can also be a result of an injury to the back, which hastens the aging process.

Ligaments are cords of tissue that connect the bones. The spinal ligaments can stiffen with age making it less flexible.

Due to disc degeneration, the body itself tries to produce extra bone to strengthen the spine. This condition is called bone spurs. This can sometimes press the spinal cord and nerve roots resulting in numbness and tingling.

Risk Factors for lumbar spondylosis:

    • Age

Lumbar spondylosis is part of the aging process.

    • Occupation

Jobs involving repetitive movements, heavy lifting, etc. can result in lumbar spondylosis.

    • Poor posture

Poor posture results in putting extra stress on the lumbar spine that can result in lumbar spondylosis.

    • Injury

The risk of lumbar spondylosis increases in case of any injury to the spine.

Diagnosis:

The initial evaluation for lumbar spondylosis begins with an accurate history and thorough physical examination with appropriate provocative testing. Radiographic studies such as x-rays, CT, or MRI will help in providing confirmatory evidence to support the exam finding. In case of findings of nerve compression during clinical history, electromyographic studies may be done.

Treatment of Lumbar spondylosis:

Conservative treatments work well in case of mild lumbar spondylosis. The most common forms of conservative treatment options for lumbar spondylosis include:

  • Physical therapy.
  • Exercises and stretches.
  • Pain medications.
  • Spinal injections.
  • Brace use.
  • Limited bed rest.
  • Lifestyle modifications.

Most of the above-mentioned treatment options can be combined to obtain maximum pain relief. However, one should always consult the physician before starting and/or combining any of the treatments.

One can also consider alternative treatments such as Ayurveda, Acupuncture & Yoga before opting for surgery. Ayurvedic therapies done under supervision of a trained Ayurveda physician are proven to be extremely helpful in relieving the pain. The various massages like Podikkizhi (Herbal powder massage), Ilakkaizhi (Herbal leaves massage), kativasthi (Pooling medicated oil in the back), Pizhichil (Pouring medicated oils as a stream), Nhavarakkizhi (Massage with rice boiled in medicated milk) and Panchakarma therapies like Kashaya Vasthi (enema with medicated decoctions) and Ksheeravasthi (Enema with medicated milk) are extremely effective in relieving the symptoms and strengthening the back.

In case the conservative treatments fail to relieve the symptoms, surgical treatment can be considered to treat lumbar spondylosis.

Prevention Tips:

  • Providing essential nutrients required to maintain healthy bones and tissues helps the spinal cord to withstand the wear and tear better and resist degeneration.
  • Exercising regularly will provide adequate strength for the spine to withstand the wear and tear.
  • Stretching regularly reduces pressure on the spine and strengthens the spine.

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