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What Is Lumbar Spondylosis and What Are the Treatment Options?

Older person massages aching lower back

Lumbar spondylosis, an often painful back condition, results from a slow degradation of bone structures over the course of a lifetime. NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute provides treatment for neck and spine conditions at locations throughout New Jersey. Here, we discuss what lumbar spondylosis is, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

What Is Lumbar Spondylosis?

Lumbar spondylosis is an age-related condition in the lower back region of the spine. Also called spinal osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease, spondylosis results from a slow degradation of bone structures as we age.

Your spine is a column of 33 linked bones called vertebrae. Between each pair of vertebrae is a soft, jelly-filled disc that acts as a cushion, absorbing shock and letting your spine bend and twist without its bones rubbing against one another.

Over time, this function slowly degrades. Often the discs wear down and can no longer provide sufficient cushioning for your vertebrae. In other cases, deterioration in the vertebrae results in bone spurs and spikes that reach past the discs. Either way, the bones in your back start to rub and grind painfully against one another. This rubbing is what we call spondylosis.

Lumbar spondylosis specifically refers to spondylosis that occurs in your spine’s lumbar region. The lumbar and sacrum region is your lower back, located between your rib cage and your pelvis. It carries most of your body weight, making it especially vulnerable to degradation. Lumbar spondylosis is common, affecting 80% of adults over the age of 40. Luckily, it is treatable.

Signs and Symptoms of Lumbar Spondylosis

Many people with lumbar spondylosis never notice any symptoms. In other cases, the rubbing of bone on bone can result in aching pains and stiffness. Spondylosis may also cause nerve pinching, or lumbar radiculopathy, which can affect your body in various ways. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Pain: Lumbar spondylosis most often causes pain in the lower back. Pain may increase when sitting, standing, turning your head, or coughing or sneezing.
  • Paresthesia: This term refers to abnormal sensations in your extremities. You may feel as if your legs, feet, arms, or hands are constantly tingling, burning, or numb.
  • Clumsiness: Nerve pinching can interfere with your coordination and muscle control, creating feelings of weakness and difficulty walking.
  • Incontinence: In extreme cases, spondylosis may result in loss of bladder or bowel control.

Though all these symptoms can be caused by lumbar spondylosis, many of them may also be caused by other spine conditions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend consulting the spine specialists at NU-Spine. Early and accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure an effective treatment.

How Lumbar Spondylosis Is Treated

The treatment for lumbar spondylosis depends on its cause and severity. In some cases, a conservative approach is enough to provide relief. Other cases require back surgery. These are some of the most common treatments for spondylosis:

Non-Invasive Treatment

The first treatments your doctor will recommend are non-surgical. This may involve rest, physical or occupational therapy, pain relief medicine, assistive devices, or lifestyle changes. The hope is that your symptoms can be resolved without requiring surgery.

Disc Replacement

If spondylosis is caused by a lumbar herniated disc, your doctor may recommend a disc replacement. This procedure involves replacing the worn-down or damaged spinal disc with an artificial one. The new disc will provide more effective cushioning and may keep your vertebrae from chafing.

Foraminotomy

Sometimes, spondylosis can interfere with the narrow gap between vertebrae, which your nerve roots pass through. The resulting nerve pinching can be treated with a lumbar foraminotomy. By enlarging the hole, doctors can create more space for your nerves and eliminate the impingement.

Discectomy

Nerve pinching can also be addressed with a discectomy. This procedure involves removing part of one of your spinal discs. Doctors may recommend it if part of a slipped disc is pressing against your nerve root or spinal column, or if it interferes with spinal mobility.

Microdiscectomy

Microdiscectomy is like a standard discectomy in that both procedures remove part of a disc. Here, however, with this procedure, doctors use tiny incisions and specialized tools to reduce the impact on your body. Though not always possible, these methods can lead to a faster recovery.

Minimally Invasive Laminectomy

If the problem is caused by a bone spur, your doctors may recommend minimally invasive laminectomy. Through this procedure, the spine surgeon will remove part or all of the vertebra. Even a minimally invasive laminectomy can be high-impact and is usually only used when other procedures fail.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion surgery involves using a bone graft to fuse two or more vertebrae. This eliminates the pain caused by rubbing but may also impact your overall mobility. As such, fusion surgery is often the last resort procedure.

See a Spine Specialist for Lumbar Spondylosis

Though most cases of lumbar spondylosis can be treated, prompt action is necessary to prevent problems from progressing and ensure the best outcome. You should always see a spine specialist for proper diagnosis as soon as you notice something wrong.

At NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute, patients meet with Dr. Branko Skorvrlj. He is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in minimally invasive spine surgery and one of the few neurosurgeons who focuses solely on spine treatments. He uses state-of-the-art technology alongside a down-to-earth approach to get to know each patient personally.

Transform your life with a touch of care. Experience the cutting edge in minimally invasive spine treatments. Don’t wait for relief; schedule your appointment with our spine experts today and take the first step toward a pain-free future. To learn more about our treatments for lumbar spondylosis, contact us or visit any of our locations in Paramus, Woodbridge, Toms River, Jersey City, and Holmdel.

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