Lumbar Spondylosis

What is Lumbar Spondylosis?

“Spondylo” is a Greek word. It means vertebra. The word spondylosis signifies the increasing degeneration of the intervertebral discs and the subsequent changes in the vertebral joints. These changes and damages to the intervertebral discs and facet joints are collectively called Lumbar Spondylosis. It’s a condition that affects the lumbar region of the spine. This region carries most of the body’s weight. The spaces between the lumbar discs (and surrounding ligaments) in our spinal cords keep narrowing with age. On the other hand, the ligaments surrounding these discs keep thickening to the point of calcification. These pathological and degenerative changes compromise the patient’s spinal canal.

Aging is the primary cause of this condition. But, the location of the condition and the rate of degeneration varies. Typically, the lumbar spines of people aged 40+ are affected by these pathological and degenerative changes. This condition causes back stiffness, pain, and discomfort. If you let this condition thrive, the pathological forces will compromise your spine’s structural integrity. Any movement will stimulate the pain fibers in the surrounding joints. Thankfully, proper physiotherapy can help patients alleviate the painful symptoms of this condition.

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“Spondylo” is a Greek word. It means vertebra. The word spondylosis signifies the increasing degeneration of the intervertebral discs and the subsequent changes in the vertebral joints. These changes and damages to the intervertebral discs and facet joints are collectively called Lumbar Spondylosis.

Symptoms of Lumbar Spondylosis

Different patients experience different symptoms of this condition. Some of the most common ones include:

· Referred pain – The patient doesn’t feel pain at the site of the condition’s origin (locally in the back). Instead, they feel pain in the buttocks, hip area, thighs, etc.

· Neurological claudication - Pain in the lower back region, legs; patients also feel numb when standing, sitting, or walking for long periods.

· Bowel or bladder incontinence

· Numbness in the perianal area

· Pain in axial spine.

· Stiff backs in the morning and at night before going to bed

· Inflexibility

· Fatigue

· Dehydration

Causes of Lumbar Spondylosis

The causes of this condition originate in the intervertebral discs. In this location of the spine, biochemical and structural changes impact the patient’s body. The spine’s flexibility and mechanical resistance suffer as this condition evolves. Why does this happen? Aging. These biochemical and structural changes across the intervertebral discs and surrounding tissues are a normal part of aging.

· When the intervertebral discs degenerate, they lose their shock-absorbing capabilities

· The intervertebral discs serve as cushions for the spine when it moves.

· When these structures between the vertebral bones degenerate, the spine becomes less efficient.

· The narrowing of the spaces between the lumbar discs and the expansion of surrounding ligaments keep compromising the patient’s spinal canal.

When to See a Physiotherapist to Treat Lumbar Spondylosis? 

Patients can medically manage this condition both surgically and non-surgically. The consensus is that the most effective treatment option is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy aims to give patients pain relief, restore their movements, and strengthen their muscles. More importantly, physiotherapists teach patients how to maintain good posture.

At first, these steps will reduce the recurrence of symptoms. In the long run, physical therapy experts conduct lumbar traction, spine manipulation, and other massage therapies. These treatments can effectively resolve your battle with this condition.

That’s why patients must immediately visit a physiotherapist if they experience any key symptoms of Lumbar Spondylosis.

Lumbar Spondylosis – Key Risks and Complications

The key risk factors of this condition include -

· Age – The healing ability of our bodies decreases with age. Our spines become much weaker when we’re over 40 years of age. People from this age group (especially females) are more prone to developing this condition.

· Overweight – Overweight people typically have damaged spines. The lumbar regions of their spines typically experience the most damage, making them more prone to developing this condition.

· Job Nature – If your job involves sitting in one place for prolonged periods, your lumbar vertebrae experience more pressure than usual.

· Past Injuries – Repeated blows to the lumbar regions of the spine makes people more prone to developing this condition.

· Not treating this condition can lead to severe complications such as spinal nerve damage, vastly restricted mobility, and paralysis.

How to Prevent Getting Lumbar Spondylosis? 

We can’t prevent aging, the key causal factor behind this condition. But, we can incorporate some healthy preventive measures into our lives and delay or even avoid ever getting this condition:

· Create a regular fitness routine

· Lose weight if you’re overweight

· Eat nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains)

· Take breaks from sitting or walking for hours

· Sit or stand correctly

· Learn how to exercise properly from a physiotherapist

· Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night

· Stop smoking and avoid alcohol use as both lead to circulatory defects and dehydration

Treatments for Lumbar Spondylosis

Surgical intervention is only required when back pain severely impacts the patient’s life (e.g., being unable to walk). Most patients with this condition prefer physical therapy management. Physiotherapists typically take a multidisciplinary approach to treating this condition. Here are some common treatments they offer to patients of this condition:

· Muscle stretching and strengthening exercises

· Aerobics exercise

· Customized physiotherapy programs of varying intensity, duration, and frequency

· Lumbar traction

· Spine manipulation

· Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation therapy (TENS)

· Attaching lumbar tractions to the back to force open the compressed intervertebral spaces

· Taping Kinesio tape around the spin region to improve the patient’s range of motion (ROM)

· McKenzie exercises to prevent further degeneration of the lumbar spine

· Attaching lumbar back support braces to limit spine motion and correct spinal deformities

· Most importantly, physiotherapists educate patients about their lumbar anatomies and re-attain good spinal posture with appropriate back exercises.

Related Conditions

Spondylosis is similar to various age-related degenerative disc diseases. Some of them include – sciatica, spinal stenosis, and spinal disk herniation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can physiotherapy help patients with this condition?
Yes. Patients who receive physiotherapy report increasing their ROM. After 6 to 9 weeks of physiotherapeutic care, patients can normally sit, stand, tilt their pelvises, etc. Posture correction is the ultimate long-term benefit of physiotherapy.
2. Do I need medication to fix this condition?
Yes. Medical experts pharmacologically manage the intense pain patients feel using non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
3. Am I at risk of getting this condition?
If your Body Mass Index is not normal or your work involves many spine-loading activities (bending, lifting, twisting, etc.), you are at risk of suffering from this condition.

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