Degenerative lumbar spondylosis is a general term for degeneration of the lower spine. Spondylosis is sometimes used as a word to describe osteoarthritis, and physicians may use the word as a catch-all diagnosis to describe back pain with no known cause.
There are several conditions that may contribute to degenerative lumbar spondylosis. The most common cause is aging, but spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and bone spurs may also be contributing factors to pain in patients diagnosed with spondylosis.
Effects of aging on the spine
Degeneration is a natural part of aging. As we get older, our body chemistry changes. For example, the pads of cartilage and gel (discs) that separate our vertebrae lose moisture and become more susceptible to damage. Your discs act as shock absorbers for your spine, keeping bones from grinding together. As they become drier, the wear and tear of absorbing shocks from your bones starts to wear down the discs.
Aging also affects the bones of the spine. Each vertebra is connected by joints to the vertebrae above and below; these joints (called facet joints) are what allow your spine to move. Over time, the protective cartilage that coats the facet joints gets worn away. Without their protective cover, the bones may sustain damage, at which point they will attempt to heal themselves by growing new bone. This leads to the formation of bone spurs, which can press on nerves or cause joint dysfunction, causing pain and a loss of flexibility.
Degenerative lumbar spondylosis is a fact of life for many people over the age of 50, and there is no cure. For most patients, conservative pain management techniques are used to help control the symptoms of the condition and preserve quality of life. Some common treatment options include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medications
- Heat or ice to reduce pain and inflammation
- Exercise to help keep muscles strong and joints as flexible as possible
- Alternative medicine treatments, such as massage therapy, ultrasound, or chiropractic.
If severe degenerative lumbar spondylosis is keeping you from living life to the fullest, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive outpatient procedures can help you find relief from back pain.