Degenerative lumbar spine
Degenerative lumbar spine problems originate in the lower back. The lumbar (lower) spine is critical for many movements like twisting, bending, lifting and arching, which puts a lot of stress on this area.
How degenerative lumbar spine conditions develop
Learning about lumbar spine anatomy can help you have a better understanding of how age-related degenerative conditions can develop. The lower back is made up of five vertebrae, referred to as L1 to L5. These are the largest vertebrae in the spine which support the most weight while still being flexible enough for basic movement.
As we age, spinal discs begin to break down, which can lead to a degenerative lumbar spine condition. The spinal facet joints can also degenerate and lose their smooth cartilage covering. This degenerative spine condition is called osteoarthritis if joint inflammation occurs. Because the lumbar spine is put under so much stress on a daily basis, this area is particularly prone to these types of degeneration.
Weakened discs and worn facet joints can cause the following specific conditions:
- Herniated disc — occurs when a disc’s tough exterior rips and its inner fluid pushes into the spinal canal.
- Bulging disc — a disc that weakens and swells beyond its normal boundaries
- Bone spurs — extra growths of smooth bone that can develop as a result of increased joint friction caused by arthritis
All of the above conditions can involve nerve compression. For example, bone or disc material can press on spinal nerves, causing pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. These chronic symptoms can severely impact your quality of life.
Treatment for degenerative lumbar spine
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a degenerative lumbar spine condition and nonsurgical treatments, such as medication and physical therapy, have done little to relieve your symptoms, the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute may be able to help.
As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, our decompression and stabilization procedures are an alternative to traditional open neck and back surgery. Because of our muscle-sparing approach, our patients can experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection and complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.^