Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy — definition

The term “ligamentum flavum hypertrophy” certainly is a mouthful, a combination of Latin and Greek words that are rarely heard outside of a medical spine facility. Though the term is daunting, the meaning is simple: This term means the enlargement of a type of connective tissue within the spine.

If you are researching back pain, you may be feeling overwhelmed at the amount of information available to you, and the complexity of some of the spine topics. At Laser Spine Institute, our goal is to provide patient-centered care. That means that we are ready to provide you with whatever you need to help you make an informed and confident decision about your spine health.

As you continue to research spine articles and terms like ligamentum flavum hypertrophy, we encourage you to reach out to our Care Team with your questions and concerns. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.

Clarity for the definition of ligamentum flavum hypertrophy

Fortunately, this complex term can easily be broken down into almost literal translations from its Latin and Greek origins.

For example, the Latin-based word “ligamentum” is derived from the Latin “ligare,” which means “to bind or tie.” From this word, we have the word “ligament,” which is defined as a tough band of tissue that connects two bones. In this case, the term refers to the ligament that connects the vertebrae of the spine and provides stability for posture and spinal movement.

The word “flavum” is derived from the Latin “flavus,” or yellow, which is the color of a ligamentum flavum. “Hypertrophy” comes from two Greek words: “hyper,” meaning oversized, and “trophe,” meaning nourishment or food. This essentially means that the ligament in the spine is thickening, which could cause a potential problem.

The medical application of ligamentum flavum hypertrophy

Ligamentum flavum hypertrophy means that the ligamenta flava (the plural of ligamentum flavum) is inflamed due to stress on the spine. This generally occurs in people over the age of 50 due to the natural degeneration process of the spine.

As we age, the components of the spine are vulnerable to degenerative conditions that can lead to painful spinal nerve compression. As stress increases on the ligamenta flava, their cells become inflamed (hypertrophy) and begin to ossify, or thicken. This increase in size and decrease in elasticity occasionally combine to reduce the area available for nerve roots and the spinal cord to pass (spinal stenosis).

This degeneration can happen at any level of the spine but is most commonly experienced in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) regions. It can be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine, but occasionally surgery may be recommended.

Laser Spine Institute treatment options

We offer several types of minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures that can treat ligamentum flavum hypertrophy. Our minimally invasive procedures have earned a patient recommendation score of 97 out of 100.^

Considering surgery can be difficult and somewhat daunting. Our procedures alleviate some of the uncertainty you may be experiencing by offering safer, effective treatment options than traditional open back surgery.
If you are considering surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a laminotomy, one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures, may be able to help you find relief from neck or back pain.