Lumbar spondylosis is, quite simply, degeneration in the region of the spine located in the lower back. Since the lumbar (lower) spine is responsible for bearing the majority of the body’s weight, as well as performing a full range of bending and twisting motions, it is extremely common for spondylosis to occur in this area.
Causes of lumbar spondylosis
Spondylosis is a general medical term used to describe age-related degeneration in the spine. While a number of factors can contribute to the onset of this condition, the primary contributing factor to lumbar spondylosis is aging.
When we’re young, our bodies naturally keep the discs between our vertebrae hydrated and springy, so that they can stand up to the stress and strain we place on them. A thick coating of lubricating cartilage keeps the joints between our vertebrae moving smoothly. However, when we get older, our body chemistry changes. Soft tissues dry up, lose their elasticity and wear away. This can lead to a bevy of problems as our discs deteriorate, ligaments and tendons stiffen and cartilage erodes. Specific spinal conditions that develop may include:
- Ruptured discs
- Bulging discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Foraminal stenosis
- Bone spurs
- Arthritis of the Spine
Lumbar spondylosis symptoms and treatment options
As with most spinal conditions, the pain from spondylosis is mostly caused by nerve compression as the structures of the spine become abnormal, or by joint stiffness as cartilage erodes. The most common lumbar spondylosis symptoms include:
- Lower back pain and stiffness
- Pain that is worse in the morning, and improves with exercise
- Loss of coordination or difficulty walking
- Shooting pains that start in the lower back and travel down the legs (sciatica)
In rare and extremely serious cases, neurological problems and bowel and bladder control issues may be present. If these symptoms appear suddenly, or begin to get worse, seek medical help immediately.
Treatment options for lumbar spondylosis are almost always non-surgical in nature. Physical activity, lifestyle changes and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually the first course of treatment, and are very effective in mild cases. Moderate or chronic cases may require additional treatment, such as prescription pain medications, cortisone shots to the spine and physical therapy. Many people also report relief from alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic treatments. For very severe cases, your physician may recommend surgical treatment. Each patient is different, however, and only a physician can determine the best course of action for a specific condition.
If chronic pain from lumbar spondylosis is limiting your activities, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our outpatient procedures can help you find relief from back pain.